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Firefighters Honored for Heroism and Valor

Firefighters Honored for Heroism and Valor

Richard Brattole (left) and Capt. Steven Moncur (right)

New Jersey Tribune via YellowBrix

October 31, 2010

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Richard Brattole, a Clark firefighter, and Steven Moncur, a Linden fire captain, live a few houses away from each other on School Street in Clark. Both were both off-duty last Dec. 28, relaxing in their homes with their families, when neighbors told them that a house on their block was on fire and a 74-year-old woman was trapped inside.

Brattole ran into the house and took a first pass with a flashlight, but he couldn’t find the woman because of the thick smoke and raging fire. He went back in with Moncur, both without any gear, and carried out the unconscious woman, who survived.

They were among 10 firefighters lauded Thursday night at the 23rd annual Valor Awards dinner in West Orange, sponsored by the Saint Barnabas Burn Foundation. Firefighters nominate their peers and then choose the winners to be given awards for heroic rescues, said Ronald Del Mauro, chief executive officer of the Saint Barnabas Health Care System.

The others honored included:

• New Brunswick firefighters Joseph Carman and Capt. Ramon Schaffer were called to the scene of a Dec. 13 fire and after running out of oxygen ran back inside the burning building to save an unconscious man on the third floor. They pulled him outside to safety minutes before all firefighters were called to evacuate the structure. Each man credited the other for the rescue.

“This guy, he’s Superman,” said Carman, 37. “He’s all calm and collected, but when stuff starts happening, the ‘S’ on his chest pops up.”

• On his way to a fire, off-duty Newark firefighter Joseph Cuccolo saw a different building in flames. Neighbors told him a woman was still inside, and he ran in with no gear or backup and rescued the semi-conscious woman. It was several more minutes before any other firefighters arrived.

“It all happened so fast,” he said Thursday. “I didn’t think.”

• North Hudson firefighters Steven Wojtowicz and Battalion Chief Anthony Venezia carried a semi-conscious middle-aged man from a basement fire after they heard him moaning through the smoke. He survived.

• Newark firefighters John Perdisatt, Salvador Bidot and Capt. Mark Hopkins rescued an unconscious man from under a pile of debris in a burning grocery store in February 2009. He made it out of the building, but succumbed to his injuries a week later.

All of the firefighters were recognized for their heroism and selfless devotion to service. For his part, Moncur said that when he ran inside the burning building to save his elderly neighbor, he wasn’t thinking about the danger.

“We’re all adrenaline junkies, I think,” he said.


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