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Tribute for our bravest

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by amanda marinaccio

Firefighters who risked their lives in a daring rescue on Monday, February 15, when a fourth floor apartment at 785 Pelham Parkway North was consumed by flames, were honored for their heroic deeds.

On Sunday, February 21, Councilman Jimmy Vacca and Herma Williams of the Pelham Parkway Houses Residents Association, paid tribute to New York’s Bravest at Ladder Company 41 on White Plains Road.

“We have ten people alive and well today thanks to the bravery and the commitment and the dedication of these firefighters,” Vacca said. “So I’m here to say thank you, for what you do every day and for what you did on Monday in Pelham Parkway. Our neighborhood is indebted to you.”

Although flames filled the apartment, the Bravest managed to rescue ten people, including a seven-month old baby dangled by his aunt from a window. Firefighters Ron Fuentes and Keith Lagan of Ladder 41 carried a 35-foot ladder across the development and over a fence to reach the infant.

“I climbed up and grabbed the baby,” Fuentes recalled. “The baby wasn’t crying, but I just wanted to get her down to safety as quick as possible, so I held the baby tight and when I got down I gave the infant to Keith. Then I went back up because there was the woman who [bad been] holding the baby and another child still in the apartment. I broke the child gate on the window and took the little girl out. She said she was scared of heights. I told her not to look down and that I would keep her safe. When I got down, Keith went up and got the woman out.”

According to Fuentes, a member of Ladder 41 for four years, the Pelham Parkway blaze was his most intense and gratifying as a firefighter.

“We just did our job, basically,” 19-year Fire Department veteran Sean O’Donnell of Ladder 32 said. “This is the stuff we do all the time.”

O’Donnell drove the fire truck into position so that the ladder could reach the apartment, which allowed firefighters from Ladder 32 to climb up and rescue the residents.

Vacca honored Captain James Kane, Lieutenant Jim Congema and firefighters Jaysun Thom, John Maguire, Brian Marts, Lagan and Fuentes of Ladder 41. He also honored Captain Patrick Tracey and firefighters John Wrobel and O’Donnell of Ladder 32.

“It’s nice to be recognized because that’s not something that happens everyday,” Fuentes said. “I’m just glad everything worked out and everyone was safe.”

Reach reporter Amanda Marinaccio at (718) 742-3394 or amarinaccio@cnglocal.com

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