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PR- 175-07
June 6, 2007


38 Firefighters, Officers, Marshals and 2 Companies Awarded Medals for Bravery in the Line of Duty in 2006

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta today presided over the annual Fire Department (FDNY) Medal Day Ceremony.  The annual 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. This year, 25 Firefighters, 12 Fire Officers, 1 Fire Marshal and 2 Fire Companies received medals at a ceremony held at City Hall.

"The tales behind today's medal winners are stories of courage and duty, and they involve the full breadth of our Fire Department," said Mayor Bloomberg.  "New York's Bravest continue to set the standard in firefighting and rescue operations keeping our City's fire fatalities at an all time low. They risk their lives everyday to protect millions of New Yorkers and we are forever grateful for the work our firefighters do.  Congratulations to all of today's medal recipients."

"Medal Day is a long-standing tradition that honors our firefighters who everyday, risk their own lives to protect the rest of us," said Commissioner Scoppetta. "Whether it's dangling off the side of a high-rise building, diving into frigid waters or fighting through flames to rescue a fellow member, these medals show the unbridled courage it takes to be one of New York's Bravest. Today, we applaud their dedication and commitment to keeping New Yorkers safer than ever."

The 2007 James Gordon Bennett Medal, given annually for the most outstanding act of heroism, was awarded to Firefighter James T. Byrne of Ladder Company 121 for rescuing a fellow firefighter who was found unconscious. Firefighter Byrne, along with members of Ladder 121, responded to a fire in Queens at 40-20 Beach Channel Drive on January 26, 2006. While conducting an initial search of the 13-story building, a member of Engine Company 264 transmitted a "mayday." While searching the hallway in zero visibility and without the protection of a hand-line, Firefighter Byrne discovered the trapped firefighter on the floor, unresponsive and surrounded by flames at the entrance to the fire apartment. Despite the rapidly deteriorating and severe condition of the hallway, Firefighter Byrne dragged the downed firefighter to safety and returned to the hallway to search for other trapped members.

The Fire Department also awarded the Brooklyn Citizens Medal/ Firefighter Louis Valentino Award to Firefighter Joseph W. Donatelli of Ladder Company 132 for his unwavering bravery. Shortly after arriving on-scene at 1700 Bedford Ave in Brooklyn on March 1, 2006, Firefighter Donatelli along with Firefighter William Hansen heard screams coming from the upper floors of the 25-story building. Immediately, Firefighter Donatelli and Firefighter Hansen made their way to the roof where they found a woman hanging on by her fingertips of the roof edge 25 stories up.  Realizing she could no longer maintain her grip, it was evident that seconds meant the difference between life and death. Firefighters quickly secured a lifesaving rescue rope and Firefighter Donatelli was lowered to the trapped woman where he was able to secure her to his lifesaving rope. With the teamwork of the members on the roof, the pair was pulled up to the roof, and to safety.

Firefighter Richard G. Schmidt of Rescue Company 4 was also honored today by receiving the Hugh Bonner Medal for his heroic efforts in rescuing a man out of the rubble after an explosion rocked an eastside townhouse in Midtown Manhattan on July 10, 2006. Without regard for his own safety, Firefighter Schmidt located, secured and removed a seriously injured victim both quickly and without harm, while facing the potential of another explosion and secondary collapse.

Also being honored today with the Pulaski Association Medal was Firefighter Larry D. Schneckenburger of Ladder Company 120, who on March 20, 2006 in Brooklyn put his own life at risk to help protect the well-being of children as gun fire erupted outside of PS 298. His swift and unselfish actions were instrumental in sheltering the school children who had just been dismissed, thereby saving untold lives. If not for his bravery and quick actions, many children would have been left to fend for themselves in the middle of a gun battle.

Keeping with Fire Department tradition, 41 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 / Jason Post   (212) 788-2958

Francis X. Gribbon   (Fire)
(718) 999-2056

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