Smithtown Bravest Honored at the 145th Annual FASNY State Convention
The Fireman’s Association of the State of New York bestows Hero Awards to Five Smithtown Firefighters
Syracuse, NY, August 12, 2017 – The Fireman’s Association of the State of New York presented their 2017 Valor Awards to five Smithtown Firefighters who were involved in a house fire rescue in the early morning hours of August 24, 2016.
Second Assistant Chief Patrick Diecidue, Third Assistant Chief Timothy Duckham, Ex-Chief John Hansen, Ex-Captain Engine Company 4 Jen O’Brien and Firefighter Joe LaRocco of Rescue Company 9 were all cited for their bravery in the face of adverse conditions. Also awarded was Smithtown Fire District EMT Tom Kriklava.
The Chief in command on that early morning was Past Chief Timothy Murphy. The Chiefs report exemplifies the reason FASNY presented their highest honor to the five firefighters.
Murphy’s letter read:
“On Wednesday August 24, 2016 at 0313 hours, the Smithtown Fire Department was activated for an automatic alarm at 38 Sterling Lane, the home of a Hauppauge Fire Department member. The house is a two story split ranch single family private dwelling that is very common to the Smithtown area.
First on scene were Captain Tim Duckham (arriving directly from home in his private vehicle) and district first responder EMT-CC Tom Kriklava. After a 360-degree size up, Captain Duckham advised Chief Patrick Diecidue of a working fire and occupants within. Captain Duckham and Tom Kriklava forced the front door, made entry and without regard for their personal safety began to search without benefit of SCBA. They encountered a thick, choking smoke that filled the upper level of the house. After partially searching the second floor, Duckham and Kriklava exited the house and donned SCBAs from the chief’s vehicle and first responder car and re-entered to continue searching. Chief Diecidue who was not wearing an SCBA entered to search and size up the scene. These searches were being made without the benefit of protective hose lines as apparatus had not yet arrived.
While searching, Duckham found a three-year-old female unconscious victim during the search of a bedroom. Duckham removed the victim down the hallway and was met by Chief Diecidue. Together they removed the victim to the front lawn. Kriklava exited the building and assessed the victim’s medical condition. He determined that the victim was in respiratory arrest and provided rescue breathing via mouth-to-mouth to the three-year-old victim. Upon the arrival of an ambulance, Kriklava provided ALS care during transport of the three-year old to the hospital.
Chief Diecidue and Captain Duckham re-entered and continued searching in worsening conditions. With the establishment of Incident Command and firefighting units arriving, Diecidue and Duckham informed them of where they searched and exited the building. Chief Diecidue then coordinated interior operations for continued searches and firefighting efforts for the remainder of the alarm.
The first arriving units consisting of Engine 4-2-4, Engine 4-2-5, and Rescue 4-2-9 arrived on scene and were tasked with search and firefighting duties. At this time, there were still two victims unaccounted for and the seat of the fire had not been found. While searching, Ex-Captain Jennifer O’Brien from Engine 4 found an adult female victim and 3 month old male victim both unconscious and entangled in the bathroom. Coincidentally, this is the same bathroom O’Brien delivered the baby victim three months earlier. Shouting for assistance, O’Brien was joined by Firefighter Joseph LaRocco from Rescue 9 and Captain/Ex-Chief John Hansen from Engine 5. The three firefighters were able to disentangle the two victims. O’Brien removed the infant victim from the house and began mouth to mouth resuscitation. Hansen and LaRocco removed the adult victim and passed her to other firefighters and EMS personnel
All three victims were removed from the involved house in respiratory/cardiac arrest. The mother was transported to St. Catherine’s Hospital. She was later transported to University Hospital at Stony Brook where she remained in very critical condition with respiratory injuries. After almost four months, the mother was then transported to the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center for consideration for a double lung transplant. She succumbed to her injuries on December 15, 2016. The two children were revived in route to University Hospital. They were discharged after making a full recovery.”
The Smithtown Fire Department takes deep pride in honoring our finest.