Firefighters train for a wide variety of emergency situations, no matter how rare or far-fetched they may seem.
Residents of a Manhattan high-rise are incredibly grateful for that training today. If it weren’t for the heroes of the FDNY, they’re not sure they would have survived the blaze in their building that left several people trapped 20 stories above the ground.
The trouble began on the morning of November 5, when a lithium-ion battery attached to an e-bike exploded by the door of an apartment on the 20th floor. This is yet another fire caused by this kind of battery, which are blamed for 200 apartment fires and six deaths so far in 2022.
Members of the FDNY arrived on the scene just three minutes after the fire started, but the heat from the battery was so intense that the fire was already raging out of control.
“When they do go on fire, they are so intense that all combustibles in the area will catch fire,” said FDNY Chief Fire Marshall Daniel Flynn.
Residents above the fire fled to the rooftop, where they remained trapped as firefighters worked to save lives on the 20th floor.
Firefighters spotted two people hanging out of a 20th-story window hundreds of feet in the air. Their only solution was to use an incredibly rare form of rescue, a rope rescue, in which firefighters use ropes to lower themselves down to victims and lift them out of danger using sheer strength.
Witness Ken Gunsberger was on the street watching the dramatic rescue 20 stories above.
“(There were) massive amounts of smoke coming out of a window,” he said. “(The tenants were) literally choking from smoke.”
He saw a woman dangling from her window, and he held his breath waiting to see if rescuers would get to her on time.
“I didn’t know how she was going to stay there,” Ken said. “I’m like, ‘If they don’t grab her, that’s it.'”
Ladder 16 firefighter Belvon Koranteng was the first to be lowered down to the window of the smoke-clogged apartment. He saw that the woman’s clothing was caught in the window, and relayed that information to his team. Next, Artur Podgorski lowered himself down on a rope and grabbed the hanging woman, freeing her clothing from the window. His team then lowered Artur and the victim to the window below them.
Another tenant was pulled out of the building in the same manner. As other firefighters tamed the inferno inside the building, they managed to evacuate the rest of the people trapped inside. Thanks to these heroes, everyone got out alive!
FDNY Chief Frank Leeb said a rope rescue “is a last resort in the FDNY,” but we’re so glad they had the training and bravery they needed to save these lives!
“It was an incredibly dangerous situation, to put our members on a rope from the 20th floor,” he said. “Training and preparation is what it’s all about.”
People who witnessed the rescue were left awe-struck by these heroes’ bravery and skill.
“I can’t say enough about the firefighters of New York,” said witness Amy Bernstein. “…The job they did was just amazing. You could see their focus. You could see their safety first, they were going to save this person.
This fire sent 38 people to the hospital, including five firefighters, but it could have easily been deadly for all involved. Thank goodness for the true heroes of the world!
Watch the video below to see the dramatic rescue play out, and don’t forget to share.
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