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Press Releases / 2008 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 20, 2008

MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND FIRE COMMISSIONER SCOPPETTA HONOR MEMBERS OF THE FIRE DEPARTMENT AT 139th MEDAL DAY

Firefighters and EMS Members Awarded Medals for Bravery in the Line of Duty in 2007 During First Combined Medal Day Ceremony in FDNY History

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta today presided over the annual Fire Department (FDNY) Medal Day Ceremony. The annual event honored those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, displaying courage and skill under the most extreme conditions to help save lives, and for the first time in City history, both members of the fire service and the Emergency Medical Service were honored alongside one another. Since the EMS Command merged with the FDNY in 1996, its members have been honored during separate ceremonies. This year, 21 Firefighters, 15 Fire Officers, 1 Fire Marshal, 2 Fire Companies, 5 Emergency Medical Technicians, 5 Paramedics, 1 EMS Officer and 1 EMS Fellow received medals at a ceremony held at City Hall.

“We’ve combined what have long been two celebrations into one, so that from now on, Medal Day also will pay tribute to the heroic work of our city’s emergency medical technicians and paramedics,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Firefighters, paramedics, and EMTs have distinct skills and face different dangers. But you are united in a common mission: To protect the lives of the eight and a quarter million people of New York City. Congratulations to all of today’s medal recipients.”

“Our dedicated firefighters and EMS members make up the greatest life-saving team in the world, and today, for the first time in FDNY history, they are being honored as such,” said Commissioner Scoppetta. “Medal Day is one of the Department’s most cherished traditions that highlight the brave efforts of our members who are willing to sacrifice their lives for others. Whether fighting through flames to rescue a child or providing medical care in the midst of a gun battle, these medal winners are our very best of the best. We applaud all of your work.”

The James Gordon Bennett Medal, given to a member of the fire service for the most outstanding act of heroism, was awarded to Lieutenant James F. Congema for rescuing five people from a burning Bronx building. On March 23, 2007, Lt. Congema and his fellow firefighters from Ladder Company 41 responded to a fire inside a two-story building at 1717 Unionport Road. Upon entering the fire apartment on the first floor, firefighters were confronted with intense heat, zero visibility and thick black smoke. Lt. Congema led his members inside and soon discovered an unconscious adult. He dragged the victim to the front door, and firefighters carried the person outside. Without the protection of a hose line, Lt. Congema continued his search by hand and crawled past the growing fire to find another unconscious adult. He pulled the victim toward the door, and another firefighter took the person outside. Although the spreading flames threatened to trap Lt. Congema, he crawled deeper into the apartment and found two more victims who were carried outside by fellow firefighters. Physically exhausted, Lt. Congema managed to search the last bedroom and found an unconscious young girl whom he brought to safety.

            The Brooklyn Citizens Medal/ Firefighter Louis Valentino Award was given to Firefighter Frank T. DiLeo of Ladder Company 102 for rescuing three children and an adult woman from a Brooklyn fire on June 8, 2007. Upon arriving at 446 Willoughby Avenue, Firefighter DiLeo and his fellow members saw thick smoke and flames pouring from the first-floor windows of the four-story brownstone. Firefighter DiLeo entered through a front basement door and was immediately confronted with intense fire – due to ongoing renovations that led to the removal of hallway walls and pocket doors. Facing intense heat with zero visibility, Firefighter DiLeo crawled toward the rear bedrooms as a flashover fire – when a room’s temperature rises to the point where every item ignites at once – erupted behind him. Firefighter DiLeo soon found an unconscious woman and two children, ages two and six, in a bedroom as the fire advanced toward them. Without the protection of a hose line, he closed the bedroom door and forced another door open to the outside. Firefighter DiLeo helped carry out the victims, then returned to the fire apartment when he learned another child was missing. He found a four-year-old girl on the bathroom floor and brought her to safety.

            The Christopher J. Prescott Medal, the highest honor given to a member of the EMS Command, was awarded to EMTs Shawn P. Healy and Daniel J. Rohde, both of Station 19, for evacuating residents from a burning building in the Bronx. On February 9, 2007, EMTs Healy and Rohde were flagged down by a neighbor who spotted smoke emanating from the top floor of a six-story apartment building at 1840 Grand Concourse. Without any protective gear, EMTs Healy and Rohde went inside and alerted residents to the fire. Upon arriving at the fire apartment, the EMTs found the door was left open and searched all of the rooms for potential victims. As they left, they closed the door and prevented any further injury or damage to the building.

            The Tracy Allen-Lee Medal was awarded to Paramedics Jacob W. Dutton and Joseph B. Fraiman, both of Station 57, for providing medical care during a gun battle in Brooklyn. On July 7, 2007, Paramedics Dutton and Fraiman were transporting a patient when they were flagged down for a serious motor vehicle accident. After ensuring their patient was stable, Paramedic Dutton stepped out of the ambulance, and the vehicle’s driver pointed a gun in his face. The paramedics quickly escorted bystanders away from the gunman, who exchanged shots with police officers as they arrived. Despite one of the gunman’s bullets narrowly missing Paramedic Dutton, the paramedic helped other EMS members treat the perpetrator who suffered a gunshot wound.

A total of 39 medals were awarded to firefighters and 5 medals to EMS members for their courageous actions during the previous calendar year. FDNY members were honored with medals endowed by a variety of nonprofit organizations and other supporters of the Fire Department.


Press Contact: Francis X. Gribbon (FDNY) (718) 999-2056
Stu Loeser / Jason Post (212) 788-2958

http://www.nyc.gov/fdny

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