FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 7, 2006
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND FIRE COMMISSIONER SCOPPETTA HONOR FIRE DEPARTMENT HEROES AT 137th MEDAL DAY
40 Firefighters, Officers, Marshals and Three Companies Awarded Medals for Bravery in the Line of Duty in 2005
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta today presided over the annual Fire Department (FDNY) Medal Day Ceremony. The event honors firefighters, fire officers, fire marshals and fire companies that have gone above and beyond the call of duty, displaying courage under the most extreme conditions to help save lives. Forty members and three fire companies received medals today at the ceremony held at Pace University.
“The leadership and bravery shown by the medal winners today are shining examples of the life-saving work performed by the members of this Department every day,” Mayor Bloomberg told the medal winners. “The day you entered the Fire Academy was day you answered the call to serve this City, and you’ve done so with great skill and remarkable achievement. All New Yorkers owe the firefighters and fire officers honored here today an enormous debt of gratitude. On behalf of our great City, thank you and congratulations to all of today’s medal winners.”
“Today’s medal winners are defining examples of the incredible commitment and bravery demonstrated every day in the Fire Department,” said Commissioner Scoppetta. “No two fires are alike and no two rescues are the same. Yet every Fire Department member here today, through your willingness to put yourself at personal risk to save the lives of people you have never met, exemplifies why you have been named ‘the Bravest.’ Congratulations on a job well done.”
Every third year, one of the past three James Gordon Bennett Medal winners receives the Dr. Harry M. Archer Medal, the highest honor that can be bestowed on a New York City Firefighter. This year’s top award was given to Firefighter James Mills of Ladder Company 176. Firefighter Mills, along with members of Ladder 176, responded to a fire in Brooklyn at 1636 Pitkin Avenue on March 4, 2003. A mayday was transmitted on the scene approximately 20 minutes after fire units had arrived, prompting Firefighter Mills to enter the cellar of the fire building. He began his search without the protection of a hose-line and successfully located and rescued a fellow firefighter who was found unconscious and face down in a pool of water. The firefighter was transported to an area hospital in stable condition due to the quick work of Firefighter Mills.
The 2006 James Gordon Bennett Medal, awarded annually for the most outstanding act of heroism, was awarded to Captain Christopher J. Joyce of Engine Company 318 for his heroic actions on February 13, 2005. Arriving on the scene of a basement fire in a two-story private house at 128 Bay 50th Street in Brooklyn, Captain Joyce and members of Engine 318 quickly realized that an elderly male occupant was trapped inside. Prior to the arrival of the Ladder Company and without the benefit of a hose-line, Captain Joyce crawled past the fire through intense heat and limited visibility and pulled the unconscious male victim from the basement. The victim was transported to the burn unit at Staten Island University Hospital.
The Fire Department also awarded the Lt. James Curran/New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation/Father Julian F. Deeken Memorial Medal, given once every three years to the company that has demonstrated exceptional action during the call of duty, to Engine Company 298. On September 6, 2004, Engine 298 arrived on the scene of 150-82 87th Avenue in Queens, a two-and-a-half story private house with flames visible through the second and top-floor windows. Four residents were huddled at the top-floor windows waiting for help. With the knowledge that the Ladder Company was still en route and there was little time to wait, members of the Engine Company 298 quickly stretched a hose-line and began to put water on the flames. Realizing that three victims in the attic needed immediate assistance and knowing that they would be exposed to danger from behind, the Engine Company bypassed fire on the second floor in order to make their way up to the trapped occupants and suppress the attic’s flames. Due to their quick work, all four of the residents trapped occupants did not sustain serious injuries.
Fire Marshal Joseph A. Ricca was also honored today by receiving the Deputy Commissioner Christine R. Godek Medal. Fire Marshal Ricca’s investigation led to the arrest of two teenagers accused of killing a homeless man when they set fire to a Walbaum’s supermarket on Staten Island even while knowing that the homeless man was still inside the building. The 17-year-old suspect is awaiting trial and the 14-year-old accomplice has been referred to Family Court.
Keeping with Fire Department tradition, 43 medals were awarded to firefighters for their heroic actions from the previous calendar year. Firefighters, representing all five boroughs, were honored with medals endowed by a variety of nonprofit organizations and other supporters of the FDNY.
Stu Loeser / Virginia Lam (212) 788-2958
Francis X. Gribbon (Fire Department)
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