Firefighter Frank E. Muzio
Ladder Company 12
March 28, 1999,
0537 hours, Box 22-533,
463 West Street, Manhattan
Appointed to FDNY on August 11, 1991, and assigned
to Ladder 12. Member of the Columbia Association.
Cited for bravery twice previously. Holds a degree
in Civil Engineering from Manhattan College. Resides
in Middle Village, Queens, and is engaged to be married.
Ladder 12, a busy lower Manhattan company,
was organized way back in December 1865. The Pride
of Chelsea is quartered with Engine 3 and the
7th Battalion at 150 West 19th Street, Manhattan,
an area comprised of tenements, brownstones, factories,
piers and other various commercial occupancies. Working
the 6-x-9 tour on March 27, 1999, members were hoping
for a quiet night. This was not to be the case.
At 0537 hours on March
28, the tone alarm pierced the early-morning stillness
and ordered Ladder 12 to respond to 55 Bethune Street,
Box 533 (West and Bank Streets). The structure, a
huge building, also known as 463 West Street, is an
11-story-high, 235- x 260-foot MD (multiple dwelling).
There are 345 apartments in the building and, at 0537
hours, it was a sure bet they were--for the most part--occupied,
presenting a serious life hazard.
The large fire apartment
(910-C) was of duplex construction, with the only
apartment entrance off the buildings ninth-floor
hallway. The first floor of the fire apartment was
down a flight of stairs from the entrance door and
was almost fully involved on arrival. This had created
a flue-like condition of extremely intense heat pushing
up the apartment stairs and into the second floor.
Upon arrival, Ladder
12 was informed that a woman had been seen screaming
at a ninth-floor window, trapped, but since had disappeared
from view. From previous drills, FF Frank Muzio Ladder
12 was aware of the complex layout of the building
and knew that the first-due engine would have a long
and difficult stretch.
FF Muzio, as a member of the forcible entry team,
raced for the ninth-floor apartment entrance. Feeling
the apartment door--which was red-hot to the touch--he
recognized the extremely high heat conditions on the
other side and so warned the inside team. Meanwhile,
Battalion 7 had ordered Ladder 5 into position for
a possible rope rescue.
Forcing the apartment
door with the Rabbit Tool, FF Muzio initiated the
search in the face of blistering heat and without
the cover of a protective line. Despite rapidly deteriorating
fire conditions, he aggressively pushed his search
for the trapped and now silent victim. On hands and
knees and with zero visibility, FF Muzio rapidly
covered a large area of two walk-in closets and two
The prone and unconscious
victim was found in the last bedroom at the farthest
distance from the apartment egress. After transmitting
a 10-45 and with worsening conditions, FF Muzio single-handedly
began the victims removal from the apartment,
dragging the woman around various pieces of furniture.
Dragging the victim
toward the apartment entrance--still with no line
in place--it was necessary for FF Muzio to shield
her with his own body to protect the woman from the
blowtorch-like conditions emanating from the floor
below. Exerting maximum effort, the firefighter was
able to complete the rescue and turn the victim over
to medical personnel on the floor below. Although
totally exhausted, he re-entered the fire apartment
to continue searching for other possible victims.
FF Muzios actions
in saving an unconscious woman from certain death
under extreme heat conditions and without the benefit
of a covering hose-line are in the highest traditions
of the New York City Fire Department. For this reason,
he is being presented with a medal of heroism today.--GA