It takes a special kind of person to run into a burning building when everyone else is running out.
Michael Breslin is one of those people.
Breslin, a Con Edison worker at Van Nest’s Facility, was leaving work on Saturday, April 14, when he noticed smoke coming from a buildng at 726 Van Nest Avenue.
“I was in my Con Ed vehicle making the right hand turn out of the facility, and as I was driving I looked over and saw smoke coming out of the apartment building,” Breslin said. “I knew it was a fire right away, so I turned around and pulled in front of the building.”
For the past two years, Breslin has served as a volunteer firefighter for the Commack Fire Department in Long Island.
The fire, which ultimately destroyed four buildings and displaced 11 families, required several hours and almost 200 firefighters to bring under control.
“I got six people out,” he said. “I didn’t carry anybody out of the fire, I just alerted them as to how bad the situation was and helped them safely get out. I also made sure the fire department was called, but after that, it was all about making sure people got out of there.”
On Thursday, May 17 in front of the Con Ed facility, Senator Jeff Klein, Councilman Jimmy Vacca and Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera honored Breslin for his heroic deeds.
“When Michael Breslin made the courageous decision to step into that burning building, he put his own life on the line for the lives of others. For that, he deserves our sincerest gratitude and continued recognition,” Klein said.
Rivera said the community was blessed to have a hero among them when disaster struck.
Bernadette Ferrara, vice president of the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance, said it has been working with the Red Cross and the 49th Precinct Community Council to establish The Van Nest Relief Fund, which has raised $3,000 to help the families.
The alliance also held a clothing drive at St. Dominic’s School and a household items drive at P.S. 83.
“Right now we are calling all of the families to see what day they can come to St. Dominic’s school to collect the items we have gathered,” Ferrara said. “It is mostly household items for all the families, just things they can use every day that would help lessen their load.”