2004-01-16 / Community

Beach 53 Street Family Thankful for Firefighters

By Brendan A. Brosh
Beach 53 Street Family Thankful for Firefighters By Brendan A. Brosh


The fire began in the first floor stairwell of the three-story building.The fire began in the first floor stairwell of the three-story building.

Robert Bailey couldn’t sleep on the night of January 8. With his two sons, granddaughter and son-in-law sleeping in nearby rooms, Bailey was passing time on the internet, smoking a cigarette. Around 2 a.m., he began to feel uneasy.

Bailey, a Rockaway resident for the last 41 years, has a habit of leaving the light in the kitchen on in his second floor apartment. On this night, however, he couldn’t see it. Putting his hand against the door, it felt warm. Thinking of his family, and in particular his two-year old granddaughter, Christina, he began to yell and wake up the house.

"I thought I heard something out in the hall," says Bailey. "My first reaction was to get the baby up."

By this time, smoke was billowing up the staircase from the first floor. 911 was called.


Robert Bailey’s sons, Arthur and Anthony begin to clean up after the fire.Robert Bailey’s sons, Arthur and Anthony begin to clean up after the fire.

Within three minutes, 101 Precinct officers Lawler and Kearney were on the scene. Four minutes after that, fire companies from all over the peninsula were responding to the Beach 53 Street house.

"The firefighters told us to gather near the window," says Bailey. Deeply concerned for his granddaughter who is an asthmatic, Bailey bundled Christina up and handed her to a firefighter from Ladder 121.

"She was so calm about it…the way the firefighter handled her and talked to her…she wasn’t scared," says Bailey.

With the fire quickly extinguished responding ambulance companies treated the Bailey family on the spot.

Gathering at a family members house a few blocks away, the Baileys began to piece together the events of that night. "It all happened so fast," says the elder Bailey.

Now the family must begin to clean up after the fire, but Bailey would like to thank the firefighters and the one in particular who took his granddaughter out of the window.

"I’d like to give a special thank you to the firefighter who took Christina out of the window and spoke to her so calmly."


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