FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 3, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND FIRE COMMISSIONER SCOPPETTA HONOR MEMBERS OF THE FIRE DEPARTMENT AT 140th MEDAL DAY
Firefighters and EMS Members Awarded Medals for Bravery in the Line of Duty Over the Past Year, Including a New World Trade Center Memorial Medal Endowed by 9/11 Families
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. This year, the department also introduced a new medal, the World Trade Center Memorial Medal, which this year honored members of Ladder 4 as "Company of the Year" for their response to the March 2008 crane collapse. This year, 25 Firefighters, 13 Fire Officers, 1 Fire Marshal, 4 Fire Companies, 4 Emergency Medical Technicians, 6 Paramedics, 1 EMS Officer and 1 Medical Director received medals at a ceremony held at City Hall.
"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 8.4 million people of New York City," said Mayor Bloomberg at the ceremony. "It's an enormous responsibility - one that you carry out with dedication, skill, and valor. New Yorkers are forever grateful for the work you have done - and the work you will do. Thank you and congratulations to all of today's medal winners."
"Medal Day is an important tradition for the Department because it gives these heroes the recognition they deserve," Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said. "We honor them for the work they have done and the bravery and selflessness they have shown. We can see in each of their stories that even in the most dangerous of situations, these firefighters and EMS members risked their own lives to save the lives of so many New Yorkers. We admire and are grateful for their dedication and bravery."
The World Trade Center Memorial Medal, given this year for the first time, named Ladder 4 "Company of the Year" for their response to the construction crane collapse at 305 East 51st St. on March 15, 2008. Lieutenant Christopher M. King and Firefighters Edward M. Coyle, Louis Esposito, Patrick Moore, Daniel Squire and George M. Young were on duty that day, when they worked with other companies to help rescue five civilians. The first responders were part of a larger team that searched for survivors amid hazardous conditions such as large piles of fallen debris, natural gas fumes and diesel fuel. The World Trade Center Memorial Medal was endowed by parents and families of firefighters who died in the September 11, 2001 attacks. The medal is intended as a lasting tribute to every FDNY member killed on 9/11 and will be awarded each year to a unit that exemplifies the spirit and bravery of all those who gave their lives on that day.
The Jack Pintchik Medal was given to Emergency Medical Technicians Juan Rios and, posthumously, to Jason J. Ruiz, both of Station 35, for their work rescuing a woman who had fallen onto the subway tracks at Myrtle and Marcy avenues in Brooklyn on July 15, 2008. When they arrived, the EMTs found the victim lying face-down on the tracks, being assisted by a firefighter from Engine 216. Without knowing if the third rail, which provides power to subway trains, was still electrified, EMTs Rios and Ruiz made their way onto the tracks and went to work, lifting the victim to safety on the subway platform using a long board. The woman was later transported to Woodhull Hospital, treated and released. EMT Ruiz tragically died in September. His medal was accepted by his brother, Adam Ruiz, who is also an EMT with the FDNY at Station 38.
Lieutenant Thomas P. O'Day of Ladder Company 172 was awarded the Brooklyn Citizens Medal/Firefighter Louis Valentino Award for his heroic actions during a fire at 6824 18th Avenue on May 9, 2008. Upon arrival, firefighters found fire in the first-floor and basement of the three-story building, and heard reports of people trapped above the flames. Facing high heat and heavy smoke, Lieutenant O'Day and his crew crawled on their hands and knees up the stairs to the second floor to begin their search. Hearing moaning above him, Lieutenant O'Day crawled up to the third floor alone and rescued one victim, bringing him downstairs to safety. He then returned to the third floor and, using his thermal imaging camera, found another victim who was lying outside an apartment door. Using his body to shield the victim from high overhead heat and glass falling from a skylight above, Lieutenant O'Day brought him to safety, handing him off to waiting EMS workers.
Firefighter Thomas F. Sullivan was awarded the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums Medal for his heroic actions in the most dangerous of situations. On September 2, 2008, Captain Johnson, Firefighter Michael Krol, and Firefighter Thomas F. Sullivan responded in the fireboat Marine 1-Alpha to reports of a distraught person in the Hudson River. When they arrived on the scene, members of the Hoboken Police Department pointed out the victim, who had dove into the water to flee police but was then swept under a pier by the current. Firefighter Sullivan, attached to a tether line, went into the water, facing a strong current, darkness, and a dangerous pier that allowed for little headroom. Fully aware of these dangers, Firefighter Sullivan was able to save the man's life.
A total of 38 medals were awarded to firefighters and 12 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.
Stu Loeser / Jason Post (212) 788-2958
Francis X. Gribbon (Fire Department)