Firefighter Robert McGrath
Ladder Company 33
April 28, 1999,
1745 hours, Box 862, 51st Street Subway Station, Manhattan
Appointed to the FDNY on September 24, 1977. Former
member of Engine 40 and Ladders 43 and 49. Member
of the Emerald and Holy Name Societies, Company Officers
Association, 3rd Division Delegate and Administrator
of the 3rd Division Collation Fund. Cited for bravery
on seven previous occasions. Daily News Hero of the
Month for October 1999. Received Rockland County Medal
of Valor April, 2000. Attended Manhattan College.
Resides in Pearl River with his wife, Mary, and their
children, Fred, 21, Lauren, 18, and Jennifer, 12.
Firefighting is a team operation and when the whole
team works together, lives can be saved that otherwise
might be lost. As a member of Ladder 33 in the Bronx,
FF Robert McGrath is part of a very experienced firefighting
team. On the afternoon of October 16, 1999, this team
went into action at an all-hands fire and saved a
family trapped above the roaring inferno.
Bronx Box 3336 was
transmitted at 1225 hours with a report of a fire
at 2315 Andrews Avenue. Ladder 33 arrived at the address
second-due as heavy smoke poured from the fourth-
and fifth-floor windows of a six-story, non-fireproof
Lieutenant Halpin and
the forcible entry team entered the building and began
to make their way to the fifth floor to search the
floor above the fire. FF McGrath was assigned the
outside vent position and he went right to work on
the front fire escape, assisting civilians who were
self-evacuating from the floors below the fire.
As important as it
was to help prevent injuries to the panicked tenants,
the vast number of people evacuating the building
delayed FF McGrath and the Ladder 59 outside vent
man from getting to their assigned positions. By the
time FF McGrath reached the fourth floor, the black,
acrid smoke had turned to flames, licking out onto
the fire escape.
FF McGrath heard Lieutenant
Halpin radio that he had an adult and two small children
in a very dangerous situation on the fifth floor.
The firefighter knew he had to get to the floor above
the flames. FF McGrath couldnt pass on the fire
escape and turned to another firefighter for help.
He radioed FF Clifford Thomson, Ladder 33s chauffeur,
to pick him up in the tower ladder basket and transport
him to the floor above.
As the bucket was reaching
the window, FF McGrath heard a 10-45 signal transmitted
by Lieutenant Halpin. He quickly vented and entered
the window to assist his lieutenant. The heavy smoke
and heat forced him to crawl as he followed the sound
of the lieutenants voice toward the kitchen.
Realizing that they
all couldnt leave via the bucket, Lieutenant
Halpin instructed FF McGrath to take one-and-a-half-year-old
Virgilio Ruiz, while he removed the other two victims
via the interior stairs. FF McGrath selflessly shared
his own mask to give lifesaving air to the young victim.
For the return to the
bucket, FF McGrath relied on FF Thomsons voice
to guide him back to safety. Sharing the mask made
breathing more difficult for FF McGrath,
but he was unsure how much damage already had been
done to the childs lungs. Once rescuer and victim
were in the bucket, FF Thomson swung it down to the
ground to waiting EMS workers. When FF McGrath handed
the child over, EMS personnel stabilized his condition
and transported him to Jacobi Hospital where he was
treated for smoke inhalation.
If FF McGrath and the
other members of Ladder 33 had not plucked young Virgilio
and his family from their precarious position above
the flames, the results could have been catastrophic.
For his bravery and great personal risk, the Fire
Department, City of New York, is proud to honor FF
Robert McGrath today.--JT
to Medal Day 2000 Index ]]