Probationary FDNY Firefighters Explain How They Rescued a Man Trapped in a Manhattan Apartment Fire

From FDNY …

They each of less than 18 months on the job, but Probationary Firefighters Leanardo Williams, Engine 8 (assigned to Ladder 2), and Johnpatrick Wylie, Engine 65 (assigned to Ladder 7), saved a man trapped by a 2-alarm fire in Midtown Manhattan on Dec. 9.

“This is the result of a lot of training; it doesn’t happen by accident,” Chief Peter Archer, Battalion 9, said. “[The firefighters] thought on their feet and they’re really brave.“

The first-floor apartment fire on East 37th Street was reported just before midnight on Dec. 8.

When firefighters arrived, flames were blowing out two windows, and there was high heat and heavy smoke inside. The apartment’s residents attempted to extinguish the fire themselves, to no avail, so they fled, leaving the apartment door open behind them.

“An open door gives a pathway for the fire, smoke and heat to enter the interior of the building,” Chief Archer said. “It endangers everyone else in the entire building.“

Another resident on the same floor tried to exit his apartment into the shared hallway, and encountered the high heat and smoke. He then retreated to a window in his apartment, leaving his door open, as well.

He had an unlocked gate on the window, which he tried to open, but due to exhaustion and the disorienting effects of carbon monoxide (CO), he was unable to do so before passing out.

Members from Engine 65 and Engine 16 forced open the gate. Firefighter Wylie said he could hear the man inside trying to get out before he collapsed, but never saw him due to the heavy smoke.

After the gate was opened, firefighters boosted Firefighter Wylie inside the window and he began to search for the victim.

“I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face,“ he said, so he kept his foot along the wall to keep track of where he was.

About 15 feet in, he found the victim and began dragging him toward the window.

Firefighter Williams then joined him, and the pair safely pulled the man out the window, which Chief Archer said is difficult to do without further injuring the victim.

“It was incredibly physically demanding and they did an outstanding job,“ Chief Archer said.

Firefighter Michael Eddy then performed CPR on the victim before handing him off to EMS members, who transported him to Bellevue Hospital in serious condition.

The fire was put under control just after 1 a.m. Seven civilians and one firefighter also sustained minor injuries.

Fire marshals determined the fire was caused by an unattended candle and no smoke alarms were present.

Firefighter Williams, who graduated from the Fire Academy in December 2013, said, “My adrenaline was high, but I relied on my training and to help facilitate the rescue. It felt wonderful to be able to help.“

Firefighter Wylie said it was his first rescue since graduating in June 2014.

“I was nervous and my heart was racing, because I knew this guy was inside and only had a few minutes before the CO took his life,“ he said.

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