Capt Joseph McConnell and FF Sean Heater FDNY L 42
At approximately 1230 hours of February 7th, Ladder 42 was returning to quarters from a previous alarm. While stopped at a red light on the corner of Prospect Ave. and E163rd Street, Firefighter Finnegan noticed smoke pushing from a window on the second floor of 920 Prospect Ave. Firefighter Finnegan notified L42’s Officer, Captain Joseph McConnell. As Captain McConnell was attempting to notify the Bronx dispatcher, the alarm was transmitted over the MDT. Captain McConnell acknowledged the alarm and then transmitted the 10-84 and 10-75 for reported fire on the second floor of the address. The building was a 200×150 class 1 fireproof.Captain McConnell entered the lobby to find frantic residents fleeing the building. Occupants stated the fire was on the second floor and the residents of the fire apartment did not evacuate and furthermore, numerous persons were reported above the fire.
Captain McConnell along with Firefighter Finnegan his Irons Man and Firefighter Morrison his Can Man, ascended the “A” stairs to the second floor. The stairwell was charged with heavy smoke due to the stairwell door being partially open.
With their facepieces donned, they entered the second floor hallway only to encounter fleeing residents from the fire floor. They directed the civilians toward the stairwell and down to the lobby. The hallway was charged with heavy smoke due to the apartment door being opened. CIDS information indicated no bulkhead so venting the smoke would prove difficult. Captain McConnell ordered Firefighter Morrison to remain at the stairwell door until the fire apartment was located. Captain McConnell and Firefighter Finnegan began to search for the apartment door. They located the fire apartment and gained control of the door. Captain McConnell notified Engine 73 that the A stairwell would be used as the attack stairs. Firefighter Morrison now joined the inside team in an attempt to locate the fire. Firefighter Morrison located the fire in a rear bedroom.
The fire was lapping out into the hallway, an attempt to contain the fire with the bedroom door proved futile. The fire had already burned through the door and sheetrock walls. Firefighter Morrison held back the fire as Captain McConnell and Firefighter Finnegan crawled past the room without a charged handline in an attempt to find the missing occupants. At the same time Ladder 42’s OVM Firefighter Sean Heater had put up a 24 foot portable ladder to the 2nd floor window and quickly ascended. The window Firefighter Heater was attempting to enter had thick black smoke issuing from it and quickly failed. Fire could be seen in the room through the window. Firefighter Heater then repositioned his ladder to another window and ascended. The first window which was adjacent to his position now had fire issuing from it. Firefighter Heater removed the child gates and asked permission from Captain McConnell to vent the window. Firefighter Heater donned his facepiece, removed the window and entered the room to search for the still missing occupants. Conditions were deteriorating quickly and visibility was zero. Firefighter Heater swept the floor and found a lifeless body between the bed and the outside wall. Firefighter Heater transmitted a 10-45. The window was not an option for removal so the decision was made to remove the victim through the interior.
Captain McConnell ordered Firefighter Finnegan to assist Firefighter Heater in the removal. There were many obstructions that made removing the partially naked and burned victim difficult; the fire was consuming the hallway, with Firefighter Morrison utilizing the Can, Firefighter Heater, Firefighter Finnegan and Firefighter Nevih of TL31, removed the victim to the stairwell and down to the lobby.
Captain McConnell continued his search and came across a locked bathroom door. The heat was too intense and Captain McConnell was forced to lay on his back and kick the door in. Entering the bathroom Captain McConnell came across an unconscious boy. Captain McConnell transmitted a 10-45 to the 26th Battalion. With assistance of Firefighter Morrison, the victim was dragged past the uncontrolled fire and eventually down to the lobby for awaiting EMS units.
The 14-year old boy and the adult female victim were transported to the hospital with burns and smoke inhalation. Both victims were rescued and alive because of the quick actions of Captain McConnell, Firefighter Heater and each member of L42 that operated and assisted in what was a severe and dangerous fire condition.