On February 1, 2015, at 0323 hours, Engine 310 and Ladder 174 responded first due to Box 2234 for a reported fire in a private dwelling at 216 East 89th Street in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn. Upon arrival, heavy black smoke was pushing from the first and second floors of a three story Canarsie tenement attached on the exposure two side.
As Lt. Brian Colleluori made his way to the building with his inside team, FF Koster (can firefighter) and FF Duffy (forcible entry firefighter), saw that the garage at ground level was opened and heavy black smoke was pushing around the jamb of the interior garage door. L174’s inside team attempted to gain access through this door, but it was locked. While his inside team worked on forcing the door, Lt. Colleluori found the entrance under the stoop unlocked. He notified his inside team he was entering the building.
Upon opening the door, Lt. Colleluori was immediately faced with high heat and heavy black smoke under pressure. It was apparent there was an advanced fire condition in the rear of the first floor. An urgent was then transmitted over the handie talkie for a 10-70 by E310’s chauffeur. Lt. Colleluori noted there may be a delay in water, but alone and without the presence of a handline, made the decision to continue his search toward the rear of the building. FF Fitzgerald (outside vent firefighter) also notified Lt. Colleluori there was heavy fire out the rear windows. Lt. Colleluori continued searching for the main body of fire with no visibility and high heat for approximately twenty-five feet when he came upon an unconscious 65-year-old man and transmitted a 10-45 to Battalion 58. Lt. Colleluori began to remove the victim towards the exit, but due to the victim’s large size and fire conditions, this was a challenging task. Then FF Duffy forced the interior door at the rear of the garage. This provided an easier removal of the victim. FF Koster and FF Duffy completed the removal of the victim through this door.
Still without the presence of a handline, Lt. Colleluori continued his search towards the rear of the first floor looking to confine the main body of fire when he came upon an unconscious 49-year-old woman. At this point Lt. Colleluori could see fire above his head. Lt. Colleluori transmitted a second 10-45 and began dragging the victim towards the interior garage door. Due to the extreme heat, Lt. Colleluori was forced to drag the victim from his knees. This too was an arduous task due to the victim’s large size. In the process of removing the second victim, conditions rapidly deteriorated and a flashover occurred. Lt. Colleluori was forced to lie with his stomach on the floor. With fire now approximately two feet off of the floor, Lt. Colleuori was pinned down by flames and extreme heat, making removal of the victim impossible. In an effort to provide the best possible chance of survival, Lt. Colleluori, without regard for his own safety, put himself at great personal risk attempting to shield the victim from the extreme heat and flames by lying on top of the victim. Lt. Colleluori’s experience told him that he only had seconds to contemplate his next move. He requested a line or water can to be brought in immediately to help improve conditions. He thought to himself, if things don’t get better quickly he may need to transmit a Mayday. Not wanting to abandon the victim, Lt. Colleluori staysedin these punishing conditions as long as possibe.
Knowing Lt. Colleluori was in the fire area without a charged hoseline, FF Duffy and FF Koster made their way to the interior garage door to try to assist him. There was heavy fire venting into the garage, forcing both of them to the floor. Fire was now rolling across the garage ceiling and venting out above the overhead garage door approximately 27 feet past Lt. Colleluori’s position. This was witnessed by the second due Engine Officer, Lt. Wetzel (E257). Knowing Lt. Colleluori was inside the fire area with fire around him, FF Koster crawled below the flames and expelled the entire can into the fire area. In an effort to improve conditions inside, FF Fitzerald vented a window on the exposure four side of the building. Both of these actions made conditions more bearable for Lt. Colleluori. Shortly thereafter, E310 got water in their hoseline and began hitting the fire in the garage. E310 directed the hoseline through the rear door in rear of garage improving conditions further for Lt. Colleluori.
As the line began to push back fire, Lt. Colleluori continued to drag the victim toward the exit. FF Koster was then able to make his way to assist him with removing the second victim. With fire still above their heads, Lt. Colleluori and FF Koster began dragging the victim towards the exit. The hoseline was now advancing via the interior garage door, knocking down fire, so Lt. Colleluori and FF Koster were forced to remove the second victim via the narrow hallway to the door under the stoop. Once the second victim was removed to the driveway, Lt. Colleluori and his inside team continued the primary search and assisted E310 in locating additional fire.
Lt. Colleluori put himself at great personal risk. He operated without a hoseline and with fire literally on top of him. Lt. Colleluori showed great bravery in his attempt to save and remove two unconscious victims. Lt. Colleluori’s gear was condemned by the safety battalion and it was later determined that his gear was subjected to temperatures at or above 1,000 degrees.