Hazle Township Firefighters Christopher Otto, Kevin Ruby and Thomas Ward
Photo credit: Firehouse Magazine
West Islip Firefighter Albert Cinotti
Photo credit: Firehouse Magazine
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."
A firefighter tried to grab the man's hands and pull him out, but to no avail.
Without hesitation, Otto, Ruby and Ward rushed back into the fiery basement to get him out that way.
"We went in, disentangled him, and walked him out," says Otto.
Ruby says Chief Bogner didn't sustain serious injury.
"He wasn't really hurt, more heat exhaustion -- there was a heavy fire load above us and it was pretty hot downstairs."
Another person who was inside the home at the time of the blaze wasn't as lucky. Firefighters later found a dead body in the basement - not far from where Chief Bogner was found.
The men say Bogner was thankful for their help, and they have discussed the incident often.
"It was shocking for him," said Otto. "He's an experienced firefighter."
The men brush off claims that they are heroes.
"At the time it was no big deal to us," Otto says. "We just happened to be in the right place. It wasn't anything that any other firefighter wouldn't do."
- Miami-Dade, Fla. Captain, Brockton, Mass. Firefighters Honored for Rescues
- North Carolina Assistant Chief Honored for Rescue
2007 Firehouse Heroism Awards
Grand Prize Recipient
- Firefighter James T. Byrne, FDNY Ladder 121
After leading a probationary firefighter to a refuge area, he crawled 22 feet under wind-driven flames to rescue a downed firefighter. He carried him back to safety.
- Assistant Chief Tim Bradley, Mebane, NC, Fire Department
Arriving before fire apparatus, he entered a well-involved mobile home to rescue a child without SCBA or a hoseline.
- Firefighter Joseph W. Donatelli, FDNY Ladder 132
After being lowered from the roof on a rope, rescued a woman trapped on the 25th floor as fire burned on the two floors below.
- Lieutenant Albert Cinotti, West Islip, NY, Fire Department, Company 4
While returning home from the firehouse, he came upon a house fire and without any protective equipment, entered the structure and removed an elderly male. Moments after he exited the structure, the room flashed over.
- Firefighter Thomas McGlade, FDNY, Ladder 14
After being extended by tower ladder into the East River, he rescued a man 120 feet from the shore as he was being swept by strong currents.
- Captain James W. Kitson FDNY, Ladder 47
Crawled into an apartment fire to locate an unconscious man. He dragged the victim to safety.
- Captain Peter Melly, FDNY, Division 7
While attempting to shut the door to an apartment while several firefighters were trapped by 50-mph wind- fueled flames, he was hit by a stream and lost his helmet and face piece. He suffered second-degree burns
- Firefighter George Eonas, Brockton, MA, Fire Department, Tower 2
After helping remove one victim of a house fire to safety, he stayed with another victims until a safe means of egress was found.
- Firefighter Kevin Galligan, Brockton, MA, Fire Department, Tower 2.
Arriving first at a house fire, he used a ladder to rescue two occupants. He later located and removed two more victims.
- Lieutenant Daniel Santry, Brockton, MA, Fire Department, Tower 2
With firefighters Eonas and Santry, located and removed two victims after assisting an infant and woman down a ground ladder at a house fire.
- Joshua Allen, Fairfax County, VA, Fire & Rescue
While off duty and without PPE, he witnessed a car hit traffic pole. He positioned his car for scene safety, broke window with tire iron to gain access to multiple patients, and maintained cervical immobilization of elderly patient.
- Terrance Andrews, Chattanooga, TN, FD
Responding to medical call, he noticed smoke but was unable to reach woman due to fire. He cleared window bars barehanded after attempting with ax, and pulled woman through window.
- Mauricio Arenas, Miami-Dade, FL, Fire Rescue
While off duty with his sons, he performed life-saving rescue on second floor of apartment without PPE or SCBA. He suffered smoke inhalation.
- Peter Bagdovitz, Washington, DC, FD
He performed high-angle technical rescue in small single bank elevator with five people trapped. He removed victims 65 feet from top of elevator car to shaft way doors.
- Albert Boyd, Baltimore City, MD, FD
He searched ahead of charged hoseline in burning apartment, found and removed child. With PPE smoking and burning, he re-entered and helped find second child.
- Jeremie Brenahan, Coon Rapids, MN, FD
He placed 35-foot ladder, entered apartment with no SCBA and rescued victim. Later, he moved ladder to adjacent apartment to remove more victims.
- Jason Buttenshaw, Fairfax County, VA, Fire & Rescue
While participating in a marathon, he witnessed a man collapse. He and another off-duty firefighter performed CPR until medics arrived.
- Kelly Byrne, Washington, DC, FD
He performed high-angle technical rescue in small elevator with five people trapped. He completed rigging of final victim by himself.
- Chris Chacon, Phoenix, AZ, FD
While on vacation, he heard that an 11-year-old girl was drowning. He swam out in strong undertow to rescue her. He later returned for her uncle, but had to turn back due to vomiting water and physical exhaustion.
- Jeffrey Chaffin, Houston, TX, FD
He used a saw to force barred window, searched apartment with thermal imaging camera, located and removed three children.
- Jeffrey Coffman, Fairfax County, VA, Fire & Rescue
While traveling off duty, came upon three-vehicle crash. Without PPE or first aid equipment, he triaged and treated multiple patients. He also assisted with extrication of trapped patient
- Denise Dicken, Prince Georges County, MD, FD
Traveling home after shift, she came upon crash in which the vehicle's engine burst into flames. She grabbed fire extinguishers from passing motorists to quell the flames. Later, she assessed and treated the patient.
- Timothy Dowd, Washington, DC, FD
He assisted with high-angle technical rescue of five people trapped in small elevator.
- Jason Earl, Fairfax County, VA, Fire & Rescue
He ran into a structure without protection of a hoseline, but quickly exited due to heavy fire and smoke conditions. He went back in with a hose, and eventually located and rescued two victims.
- Raymond Edwards, Bladensburg, MD, VFD
Under heavy fire conditions, he dug man out from under debris and pulled him to safety. The debris included 50 years of newspapers. He suffered minor burns.
- Kevin Franzello, Manassas, VA, VFC
Operating hoseline, he heard call for help. He crawled to rear of home, and assisted in removal of obese patient.
- Michael Frezza, Manssas, VA, VFC
He entered house fire without the benefit of SCBA or hose. He assisted in removal of 400-pound victim.
- Brandon Frieder, College Park, MD, VFD
Searching ahead of hoseline in low visibility and high heat conditions, he assisted in removing victim from small, cluttered apartment.
- Carr Gilmore, Midway Fire Rescue - Pawley's Island, SC
Despite six to eight-foot waves, he grabbed life jacket, swam 300-400 feet and pulled first victim to shore. He then resumed command despite exhaustion.
- Forest Goings, Columbus, OH, Div. of Fire
He found an intoxicated person dangling by a wire off a roof. He went out narrow window onto a wet, steep-angled roof to rescue the victim.
- John Gonzales, Denver, CO, FD
In heavy smoke and high heat conditions, a firefighter's SCBA malfunctioned. When victim collapsed, connected buddy breather hose and assisted him to safety.
- Christine Haber, Prince George's County, MD, FD
Traveling home after shift, she came upon a crash in which the vehicle's engine was on fire. Using extinguishers from other motorists, she quelled the flames and assisted with the patient.
- Dave Haley, Los Angeles County, CA, FD
He held fire in check while a search was initiated for victims.
- Ronald Halley, Baltimore County, MD, FD
He knocked down fire, took over search and rescue, located and removed child victim.
- Timothy Hannen, Baltimore County, MD, FD
He stretched line to second floor, and started search operations. He switched positions with other firefighter to execute effective search and rescue.
- William Hawkins, Prince George's County, MD, FD
Responded on air unit to two unconscious workers in a 15- to 20-foot sewer shaft. He used a high-pressure breathing air supply line into sewer. He helped hoist the victims out.
- Robert Holland, Florence, SC, FD
Facing heavy smoke, he used a thermal imaging camera to locate a female victim. He later found male victim, assisted in carrying him out and performed CPR.
- Kyle Howell, Columbus, OH, Div. of Fire
Without the protection of a hoseline, he removed structural debris and rescued woman from burning vehicle that hit a structure.
- Joe Ingram, Los Angeles County, CA, FD
He performed search in heavy fire conditions, located and removed victim using classic fireman's carry for 150 feet.
- Carl Jones, Fairfax County, VA
Witnessing a crash while working at part-time job, he rushed to burning vehicle without PPE or hoseline protection and pulled the unconscious driver to safety. Vehicle then became engulfed in flames.
- Derrick Keubeck, College Park, MD, VFD
He went ahead of hoseline in low visibility and high heat conditions, and assisted in removing the victim from small, cluttered basement apartment.
- Richard Lawhon, Florence, SC, FD
Facing heavy smoke, used thermal imaging camera to locate female victim. After getting her out of the house, he returned and found another victim.
- Martin Lieb, Columbus, OH, Div. of Fire
Holding his breath after SCBA failed and without the protection of a hoseline, he removed woman from burning vehicle that hit a structure.
- Joshua Liebross, College Park, MD, VFD
Located and assisted in removal of unconscious victim in limited visibility and high heat conditions.
- Jay Love, Columbus, OH, Div. of Fire
Assisted in securing victim dangling from a wire off a roof.
- Brian Martin, Los Angeles County, CA, FD
Advised that screaming was heard, he initiated search and discovered victim in exposed upstairs unit.
- Albert Moir, Vineland, NJ
Without PPE or SCBA, he came upon a fire at a tank trailer. He located victim, and led him to safety.
- Michael Nasti, Huntingtown, MD, VFD
Directed crew to begin attack while he began primary search. He continued search when hoseline was compromised, found and removed victim, returned for second victim.
- Robert Pickel, Bladensburg, MD, VFD
He found and dug victim out of pile of newspapers. He suffered burns in the incident.
- Trish Reddin, Denver, CO, FD
Under heavy smoke and high heat conditions, he assisted fellow firefighter whose SCBA malfunctioned during basement fire. After victim collapsed, he helped him to safety.
- Dana Rickman, Los Angeles County, CA, FD
After knocking down fire, climbed spiral stairs to loft, located and removed two children. Later, he performed CPR and returned to command fire.
- Jeremy Rodgers Jr., Charlotte, NC, FD
Faced heavy fire and smoke upon arrival, he located and removed unconscious victim.
- Omar Shareef, Baltimore City, MD, FD
He crawled through dense smoke and heat to assist in finding and removing child while PPE was burning.
- Richard Slepetz, Fairfax County, VA, Fire & Rescue
Using a thermal imaging camera, he located two victims in heavy fire and smoke conditions. He entered initially without hoseline.
- Greg Stienstra, Phoenix, AZ, FD
He rescued woman from heavy fire that was so intense, his PPE was destroyed and his facepiece crystallized.
- Brian Thrasher, Huntingtown, MD, VFD
He assisted in removing victim, and initiating CPR. He re-entered the structure to search for and remove second victim.
- Calvin Thomas, Houston, TX, FD
He used saw to force barred window, searched apartment with thermal imaging camera, located and removed three children.
- David Thomas, Charlotte, NC, FD
While suspended 180 feet under aircraft, he rigged a harness to hoist a patient out of a ravine.
- Breck Timbs, Gregg Township, IN, FD
With heavy smoke venting and without a hoseline, he searched for and located trapped wheelchair-bound victim, who did not survive. He re-entered the trailer with charged line.
- Ryan Trapp, Milwaukee, WI, FD
Without the benefit of a hoseline, he found stairway in zero visibility. He located and removed an unconscious victim.
- Jeff Voncannon, Department
He coordinated placement of aircraft and rope harness during hoist of climber who fell into a ravine.
- Philip Amenkowicz, Cambridge, MA, FD
- Russell Barton, Columbus, OH
- Alan Corn, Kileen, TX, FD
- Michael Cook, FDNY
- James Cox, Florence, SC
- Mike Daughtry, Tuscaloosa, AL, Fire Rescue
- Joe Esswein, St. Louis, MO, FD
- Jack Freeman, Tuscaloosa, AL, Fire Rescue
- Dan Grischow, Crystal Lake, IL, FD
- Rodney Heard, St. Louis, MO, FD
- Anthony King, Florence, AL, FD
- Bob Kohley, Crystal Lake, IL, FD
- Matt Leuck, Crystal Lake, IL, FD
- Mike Lucas, Crystal Lake, IL, FD
- Dustin Merryman, Prince Geoerge's County, MD, FD
- Bart Molli, Columbus, OH, Div. of Fire
- Bobby Morgan, Chattanooga, TN, FD
- Brian O'Regan, Cambridge, MA, FD
- Robert Olszewski, Crystal Lake, IL, FD
- Steve Pierson, St. Louis, MO, FD
- Hiedi Resek, Crystal Lake, IL, FD
- Derrick Riddle, Tuscaloosa, AL, Fire Rescue
- Barton Russell, Columbus, OH, FD
- John Snider, Tuscaloosa, AL, Fire Rescue
- Joyce Stevenson, Crystal Lake, IL, FD
- Jim Susteck, St. Louis, MO, FD
- David Thompson, Chattanooga, TN, FD
- Matt Thuma, Crystal Lake, IL, FD
- Paul Urbano, Anchorage, AK, FD
- David Vigilante, Cmabridge, MA, FD
- Donald Wagner, Columbus, OH, Div. of Fire
- Mike Ward, Florence, SC, FD
- Brad Wilson, Kileen, TX, FD
- Chris Wirth, Kileen, TX, FD
- Eric Smith, Midland, TX, FD/ARFF Station
Responding to a medical call for a hysterical man, he found a U.S. Marine sergeant who had just learned his family had been involved in a crash. His one-year-old daughter was killed, while his wife and six-yearold daughter were in a hospital. Smith chartered a plane with his own money to take the sergeant to his family. He then started a trust fund at a local bank and solicited donations from Midland area citizens to support the couple, whose daughter succombed to her injuries.
- Leslie Grundler, Contra Costa County, CA, Fire Protection District
In addition to being the coordinator of charity events at her previous fire department, she runs the Bikes for Tykes program, donating to more than 25 organizations. In 2006, the program gave a record 370 new bicycles and tricycles to needy children. She also works as a driver for patients with the cancer foundation, and assists low-income families with the Giving Tree organization.
- Dennis Wood, Prince George's County, MD, Fire/EMS
He developed and organized the PRIDE (Proactive Residential Information Distribution Effort) program to give out free smoke alarms and fire safety information as well as fresh batteries. Since the program's inception, fire fatalities have dropped by 70%. The goal is to visit all 850,000 residences during the four year effort.
- Clinton Powell, Anchorage, AK, FD
He coordinates the car seat inspection program, checking approximately 30 child/ infant seats each month for safe and proper installation. More than 100 car seats have been given out to needy families. He also has replaced seats at no cost to the department. He also works with Providence Safe Kids to provide bike helmets.
- Donnie Hardee, Greenville, NC, Fire/Rescue
He turned to laughter to get kids to listen to important fire and life safety messages. He organized the "Clown Brigade." Characters include "Bunkerz," "Squirt" and "Safe- T." He attended clown training, and dedicated countless off -duty hours coming up with entertaining skits, props and costumes.
- Ramp Gang (lead by Phillip Sullivan & Robert LaRose), Worcester, MA, FD
The crew builds ramps for elderly, handicapped and housebound individuals who are oft en without financial means to pay for them. In 2006, the gang built ramps totaling several hundred feet. There are over 50 participating members.
- Gerald T. Cabaday, Erie, PA, FD
- Ronald Wilkinson, Brandywine, MD, FD
- Cobb, GA, Fire & Emergency Serv.: Ronald G. Fagan, Trevor A. Levy, Stephen C. Bennet, & Kerry Lambert
Searching the floor above the fire in a seven-story hotel without a hoseline, the crew faced zero visibility and crawled to find one victim. The fire flashed over before they could reach the second. A third victim was rescued in a stairwell.
- Fairfax County, VA, Fire Rescue: R419
Providing mutual aid to Prince William County, the crew responded to a tractor-trailer crash 150 yards off the road. They set up a rope system, carried down tools and assisted in extrication of victim for aerial evacuation.
- Manassas, VA, VFC: Michael Lesnick, Jeff Lenard, James McCormack, James Rose
Responding to a house fire with people trapped, they prepared to enter the basement. An explosion blew the crew out of the house, and knocked one unconscious. With worsening conditions, they directed the hoseline.
- Tuscaloosa, AL, Fire Rescue: Derrick Riddle, John Snider, Mike Daugherty & Jack Freeman
Facing a house heavily involved with fire and smoke so thick that the thermal imaging camera was difficult to read, the crew performed a search. They found the victim, lifted him out a window and performed BLS until equipment arrived.
- Brockton, MA, FD: Tower 2
Four people were rescued under heavy smoke and fire conditions without the protection of a hoseline. Members accessed the home through ground ladders via a third floor window. They found two unconscious adults, dragged them to the window, and performed life-saving measures.
- Fairfax County
When a storm dropped more than 13 inches of rain in some areas, multiple emergency situations arose, including the flooding of up to 100 homes. Water rose over cars and into house. Major roads were closed. Approximately 80 people were rescued. One business and and 245 homes were damaged, causing about $11 million.
This year's Firehouse Heroism Award recipients were awarded prizes with support from E-One, V.H. Blackinton & Co., Inc. and The Charles Evans Foundation. If you would like to nominate someone from your department for next year's awards, please click here.