FDNY Firefighter Christopher Pillarella, Ladder Company 83, was responding first-due on a house fire on Dec. 4, 2011 where it was clear there would be little time to attempt to rescue a trapped occupant.
“It was a cold winter night in December and there was a call for smoke in the area,” Pillarella said.
Upon arrival, “Fire was coming out the front window,” he said, and “We knew someone was possibly in the house.”
The responding crew forced the door and as the hose line was still being stretched, Pillarella entered the structure.
“I went in and crawled around the fire, found a person on the floor and started dragging the person back out,” he said. The victim was an unconscious adult male.
Pillarella handed the man off and went back inside, though no more people were found.
“The person was unconscious and was revived in the street, and I know he’s still alive,” Pillarella said.
He said this was the first time he had directly pulled someone out of a structure fire.
“It’s a little risk but a lot of reward for saving somebody,” he said… “It’s part of the job, it’s what we do.”
He said it feels good to make such a difference in someone’s life, though responders do that in many ways.
“Any time you do good for someone it makes you feel good all around,” he said.