Local Firefighter Given Top Honor
The New York City Fire Department's top honor went to a Rockaway Beach firefighter last week at the department's annual medal day, for his heroic rescue of a fellow firefighter during a 2006 fire in Edgemere.
Byrne's ladder company was among the first responders to a fire inside a sixth floor apartment at 40-20 Beach Channel Drive on January 26, 2006. Eighteen people were injured in the fire, which broke out in apartment 6G of the 13-story building. The flames then spread into the public hallway forcing a partial evacuation of the building. Thirty-three FDNY units responded to the blaze, which took about an hour and a half to bring under control. Of the injured, 10 were firefighters and eight were civilians with minor injuries who were treated on scene.
The extreme conditions inside the building were brought on by heavy winds, which prevented Bryne from safely moving back across the apartment when the flames spilled out into the hallway. Bryne and another firefighter found refuge in a neighboring apartment that was protected from the flames.
Byrne, knowing another firefighter was potentially trapped in the hallway, opened the door to the apartment and began crawling on the floor of the hallway until he found trapped firefighter Kevin McCarthy right outside the burning apartment and in serious condition with flames surrounding him. Byrne pulled McCarthy and dragged him 22 feet back down the hallway and into apartment 6H. Byrne then made a second attempt to search the hallway for any other trapped firefighters. After a quick search, though, he was driven back by the extreme heat and continuously deteriorating conditions. McCarthy suffered second degree burns to his neck and back and was admitted to Nassau County Medical Center.
Bryne was appointed to the FDNY in October 1996 and lives in Rockaway Beach with his wife, Kathleen, and their sons, James, Colin, Brendan and Sean.