Roll call had just been completed and the members of E-301 L-150 were ready for a hot summer night tour. At 18:47 hours a phone alarm was received for “smoke on the 1st floor of a private dwelling” at 196-03 Jamaica Ave. Both companies were assigned 1st due with the location being one block from quarters.

On arrival, heavy black smoke was seen pushing from a 2nd floor window of what turned out to be a multiple dwelling. E-301 transmitted a 10-75 for fire on the 2nd floor of a 2-story multiple dwelling. With the companies getting into position, L-150’s chauffeur, E.J. Maloney, received reports from the Queens dispatch of persons trapped on the 2nd floor. This information was quickly relayed to all members via the handy talkie. Maloney then positioned the aerial ladder to the roof and assisted the roofman in getting to the roof.

After forcing entry into the dwelling, Lt. Rice and the inside team of L-150 were met by heavy smoke on the first floor. Visibility was zero and with the use of his thermal imaging camera, Lt. Rice determined the fire actually to be on the first floor down the hall and that the door was left open. This information was relayed to Lt. Kudlak of E-301. Dense black smoke severely exposed the floor above and stairwell blocking the only means of egress for residents on the 2nd floor.

FF Michael Cunningham of L-150 was assigned the O.V. position. While making his way to the rear, he had heard all the radio transmissions and knew that he might be the only chance these residents on the 2nd floor would have. He first encountered a locked courtyard gate on the exposure 4 side. FF Cunningham used the power saw and cut the lock. Upon making his way to the rear, he noticed heavy fire venting out two windows on the 1st floor exposure 4 side. He relayed this information to his officer. Now in the courtyard, FF Cunningham observed a panicked woman about to jump from a 2nd floor window. She was sitting on the window sill and her legs were dangling. Numerous civilians in the courtyard were screaming for her to jump. FF Cunningham silenced the crowd and assured the woman to stay put while he retrieved a 24 foot extension ladder from his rig. He also noticed an injured civilian who had jumped. FF Cunningham called for medical help to this location. FF Cunningham returned with the ladder and removed the panicked woman safely. She informed Cunningham that there was nobody left in her apartment. Hearing the reports of persons trapped on the 2nd floor from FF Maloney and knowing the 2nd due truck was still not in, FF Cunningham realized that the apartment directly above the fire was the most seriously exposed and the most likely spot that a person would be trapped. Considering that people were jumping from windows not directly above the fire apartment, FF Cunningham knew that was the apartment he needed to search.