An off-duty member of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) rescued his neighbor from a huge Brooklyn fire even as his own home burned, according to reports.
The FDNY’s social media pages spoke of Firefighter Piotr Orlowski of Engine 202, who was at home on Saturday night when he ran into his neighbor’s burning home on 74th Street in Brooklyn to rescue the man from a fire.
The fire ultimately went to five and alarms and, driven by high winds, extended to Firefighter Orlowski’s own home next door. Twelve firefighters suffered nonlife-threatening injuries while battling the fire, and both homes were destroyed.
“It was just before midnight and I smelled the smoke,” Firefighter Orlowski said. “We saw embers in the rear so we closed the windows, and I told my parents to get ready to evacuate. I ran to my neighbor’s house, and since I know my neighbors I noticed everyone was outside except for the gentleman I always say ‘hi’ to. I wasn’t thinking, I guess it was just my training, I just went in there and I found him all the way in the rear.
“I told him that I have to get you out, that we have to go,” Orlowski continued. “He said he was going to walk but there was no time. The door was getting charred and I could see the flames going. So I made the decision to pick him up and I took him outside. Everybody was outside safe so I ran back to my own house. I got both my parents and my dog outside. I watched the fire spread, and there was nothing we could do. We lost everything. It’s unfortunate but we’ll get through it. I’m just happy that we all got out safe.”
Firefighter Orlowski’s actions drew praise from FDNY officials. “He went in to search the fire apartment without the protection of a charged hoseline,” said FDNY Chief Kevin Woods, Staten Island Borough Commander. “He used his training, he used his skills, and he used his abilities, and he was able to search that entire apartment as it was filling with smoke and filling with fire. In total, twelve occupants from both buildings were safely evacuated. Due to his training, his skills, and abilities, Firefighter Orlowski saved a life.”
The fire is under investigation.