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Off-Duty Firefighter Rescues a Boy and his Dog from a Fire

Firefighter Robert Moore
Firefighter Robert Moore

It was like a scene from an action movie . and maybe a comedy too.

Firefighter Robert Moore from Ladder 167 was off-duty, finishing his workout at a Queens gym - his first in about four months - and preparing to pay his bill at around 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 9. The woman working at the front desk came running in the front door of the gym and started calling 9-1-1, saying there was a fire down the street.

Firefighter Moore immediately ran around the corner and saw fire blowing out the windows and front door of a two-story home.

Witnesses were yelling that there was someone in the house, so Firefighter Moore said he ran to the rear to see if he could enter the house from there.

He saw a 15-year-old boy at a second-floor window, holding a Maltese dog, screaming for help as smoke billowed over his head.

A ladder happened to be lying on the ground in the backyard, so Firefighter Moore, a man who owns a sandwich restaurant in the neighborhood and another man from the gym moved it to the window. It fell three feet short of the windowsill.

Knowing he did not have much time, Firefighter Moore climbed the ladder to the top rung. He said he used one hand to hold onto the house's vinyl siding and the other reached for the windowsill.

"I really hoped I wasn't going to fall," he said.

He asked the boy to hand him the dog, which he passed to one of the men in the yard. Knowing there was no space for both him and the boy at the top of the ladder, he said he asked the boy to slowly climb onto the windowsill and move to sit on his shoulders.

"There was nothing else I could do," he said, laughing that the boy had to step on his face to position himself. "I just kept leaning to right, aiming for an awning that could break our fall."

Luckily, he said, he was able to make it down two rungs and then moved the boy to a space between himself and the ladder, so they could climb down together.

He then moved the boy, who was covered in soot, across the street. At this time, firefighters from his company, Engine 320 and Ladder 167, had arrived and were starting to fight the fire.

Since Firefighter Moore had served as a paramedic for the FDNY for four years before becoming a firefighter two years ago, he grabbed the medical kit off the back of the fire truck and began to treat the boy for smoke inhalation and second degree burns.

He then assisted the EMS officer on the scene as well as the members of his fire company.

Two other residents of the house, the boy's father and 17-year-old brother, had escaped the home on their own with burns and smoke inhalation. Two firefighters also received minor injuries in the fire. They were transported to area hospitals by EMS members.

When Firefighter Moore left the scene, he returned to the gym to finish his workout and picked up the sandwich he had ordered earlier from the man who helped him with the ladder, then went home.

"It was a little nerve wracking and a little scary, I didn't know if there was anyone else in the house," he said. "But after I got him down it was a huge relief. I'm just glad I was able to help."