The Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award, presented by the Fire Engineering Courage and Valor Foundation, commemorates the life and career achievements of Deputy Chief Ray Downey, chief of rescue operations and 39-year veteran of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY). Meet this year's nominees for the award, which is presented annually at the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis, Indiana.
First Assistant Chief Raymond Germaine Jr. He is a 12-year veteran of the fire service and is also a firefighter in the Fire Department of New York.
Firefighter Thomas C. Kriklava. Hauppauge (NY) Fire Department. He is a seven-year veteran of the fire service.
Comment: “Their actions this day exemplified the true meaning of ‘Firefighters.’ ” Ronald P. Barz, awards officer.
On the morning of October 5, 2009, at 0128 hours, the Hauppauge (NY) Fire Department was notified of a residential fire. First Assistant Chief Ray Germaine of the first-arriving unit immediately transmitted a “working fire” with heavy fire from the numbers 2 and 3 exposures of a two-story Colonial wood-framed building. A civilian told Germaine that a person was trapped inside. Germaine made an attempt to enter the residence through the front door, but he was forced back by heavy smoke and heat conditions.
Germaine then exited the building and observed Firefighter Thomas C. Kriklava of the Hauppauge (NY) Fire Department, who previously had been informed that a civilian was trapped in the home. Kriklava was on the overhang roof outside the second-story bedroom window. Germaine then climbed to the roof ledge using an eight-foot stepladder Kriklava and a civilian had placed there. Kriklava, followed by Germaine, entered through the window of the front bedroom; the room had severe heat and smoke conditions.
Both firefighters entered the structure without an SCBA and other personal protective gear. Searching the front bedroom without a thermal imaging camera, they located an unconscious male victim lying facedown between the bed and the bedroom wall.
Without hesitation, Germaine and Kriklava swiftly removed the victim through the second-story bedroom window. Germaine and Kriklava held the victim from inside the window. The civilian helped hold the victim from outside, on the roof of the overhang. The victim was handed over to two other firefighters, who had deployed a 16-foot extension ladder to the number 1 exposure. The two firefighters carried the victim down the ladder to the front lawn of the residence.
The victim--unconscious and suffering from smoke inhalation and second-degree burns--was treated and stabilized at the scene by the ambulance on-scene and then transported to the hospital. An occupant and the civilian who had assisted in the rescue were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and were transported to the hospital. The rescued occupant regained consciousness and was on the road to recovery, but he expired three weeks after the incident from complications arising from the injuries.
MARY JANE DITTMAR is senior associate editor of Fire Engineering and conference manager of FDIC. Before joining the magazine in January 1991, she served as editor of a trade magazine in the health/nutrition market and held various positions in the educational and medical advertising fields. She has a bachelor’s degree in English/journalism and a master’s degree in communication arts.