Firefighters perform heroic acts everyday and very few of these acts are noted and recognized. Firehouse.com, in conjunction with the Annual Firehouse Magazine Heroism & Community Service Awards, will be featuring over the next few days, interviews with some of the winners as well as the complete winners lists just published in the recent April edition of Firehouse Magazine.
West Islip, N.Y. Lt. Albert Cinotti
Between working for MacArthur Airport's fire rescue crew and volunteering with the West Islip, N.Y. Fire Department, there are many nights Lt. Albert Cinotti makes it home late.
Jan. 5, 2006 -- his daughter Kamryn's first birthday -- was such a night. But this time he had a good excuse.
Cinotti rescued 78-year-old Adrian Woodward from a burning two-story house at approximately 10:38 p.m. with only his work uniform to protect him.
He was on his way home from the fire station, where he stopped briefly after work, and was already running late. "Even though it was late, I planned on getting there," he said.
The drive took longer than expected though, when he spotted smoke hovering above a school. At first he thought the school was on fire, but soon realized it was coming from the windows of a nearby house.
"I ran up to the house, checked in windows by the kitchen and saw it was fully involved," he said.
Cinotti used his portable radio to notify dispatch of the fire and spoke with the second assistant chief.
"I told him I was going to go in and see if anyone was inside," he said. "(When I entered the house) I yelled out and heard the man's voice."
The smoke was heavy, and Cinotti had to force the front door open to gain entrance. He was immediately driven to his hands and knees by the intense heat. He followed Woodward's moans past the burning kitchen and found him semi-conscious, slumped on the floor.
He removed Woodward from the house and also was able to rescue his dog from the blaze. The elderly man was transported to the hospital by an arriving ambulance and Cinotti was treated for smoke inhalation and minor burns.
When asked about his decision to attempt the rescue without the aid of bunker gear or an SCBA, he said he has no regrets because the outcome was positive.
"I knew it wasn't okay. When I think about it now, it was pretty stupid, he said. "But I heard him; I knew he was in there."
In the months following the rescue, Cinotti garnered accolades including making the front page of Newsday and recently being recognized as the Fire Association of the State of New York (FASNY) and Southern New York firefighter of the year.
Hazel Township, Penn. Firefighters Christopher Otto, Kevin Ruby and Thomas Ward
Firefighters don't just specialize is battling blazes, they also save lives. And sometimes, they are called on to save one of their own.
Christopher Otto, Kevin Ruby and Thomas Ward, all of Hazle Township, Penn. Fire and Rescue, saved a fellow firefighter who had become disoriented during a particularly black and smoky blaze.
"High heat, no visibility," says Christopher Otto, describing the Feb. 6, 2006 fire. "The first floor was beginning to weaken and sag. Conditions severely deteriorated and that's when the evacuation was ordered."
The men say the fire had eaten through the first floor of the home, making the basement a deadly place to be.
That's where Valley Regional Fire Chief Richard Bogner and his crew were battling flames - and when the alarm to evacuate the building sounded, Bogner was somehow left behind.
"He said they sounded the air horns on the apparatus to get everyone out of the building and they yanked the hoseline out of his hand and he got disorientated," Kevin Ruby says.
All three men were standing outside the home when they saw a hand emerge and then wave from a basement window.
"I was getting low on my air cylinder and I started walking out of the house," says Thomas Ward. "I noticed a guy's hand come out of the basement window -- part of the drop ceiling had fallen down and entangled his air pack."