FF John H. McCoy, Squad Co. 288
By Nick Graziano
In the morning of January 21, 2019 a very cold Winter Day, a 10-75 was transmitted for a fire in a warehouse in the College Point section of Queens. Squad Company 288 received a ticket to respond before the 10-75 was transmitted because of the number of calls received by the dispatcher. After a quick ride from Maspeth to College Point, Squad 288 arrived at the fire.
There was heavy fire and heavy thick black smoke filling the street and limiting visibility. The fire was in the basement and was extending to the first floor. Chief William Hammel, working in Battalion 52, informed the members of Squad 288 that a person was reported missing in the warehouse. The warehouse was open at the time of the fire and the workers reported that one of their coworkers was missing inside but they were not sure where he might be. Squad 288 officer Lt. Glenn Fischer sent FF John H. McCoy (hook) and FF William Long (irons) to look for a secondary entrance while the officer and can firefighter entered the warehouse through the front entrance. While walking down the exposure 2 (left) side of the building FF McCoy heard an urgent transmission for low water pressure in the first hoseline. Lt. Fischer informed FF McCoy that the hoseline in the basement was having difficulty moving because of clutter and the conditions were rapidly getting worse. FF McCoy located a door on the exposure 2 side and he and FF Long masked up and entered the warehouse to search for the missing person. This was the only other way in and out of the building. After FF Long forced the door, FF McCoy and FF Long entered the warehouse on the first floor and were met with a high heat and heavy smoke condition. FF McCoy passed an open staircase that went to the basement as fire was extending up the stairs from the basement to the first floor. He continued about 20 feet deeper into the building when he heard a man moaning. As FF McCoy moved toward the sound his search was slowed by boxes covering the floor. The moaning sound continued and FF McCoy had to move numerous boxes to continue his search in the direction of the victim. While searching in the high heat condition FF McCoy was thinking about the possibility of a flashover occurring and he knew his time in the building was limited. After moving the boxes FF McCoy located an unconscious male laying in the fetal position. He transmitted the 10-45 radio code and grabbed the man and lifted him up and over the boxes that were covering him. At this time the fire conditions had deteriorated to the point where the chief in command was about to order everyone out of the building. FF McCoy now felt heat through his bunker gear and he knew he and the victim had to quickly exit the fire building. He began to drag the man in the direction of the door he had entered as heavy fire and thick black smoke rolled over his head. As FF McCoy reached the open roll down gate where he entered he was able to get the victim and himself out of the warehouse just in time. Right after they made it out, the warehouse became fully involved in fire and the open bay door collapsed. The incident commander then ordered all firefighters out of the building. FF McCoy helped get the victim to EMS so they could take him to the hospital. Thanks to the bravery, effort, and determination of FF McCoy the victim survived.
This fire went to a 3rd alarm before being put under control. During his search and removal of the man an operating hoseline was not in place to protect FF McCoy. For his actions in removing an unconscious man from a heavy fire with high heat and zero visibility, FF John H. McCoy of Squad Co. 288 is being honored tonight at the Bravest Award Dinner.