There may have been a few raised eyebrows, maybe even a few comments, when at 4:30 p.m. on May 18th, 2005, the box alarm came through to Ladder 10’s quarters for a building in Battery Park City that was the same address as where NYPD Commissioner Kelly lived. As it happened, as soon as a “10-76” (Fire in a High Rise Building) was transmitted, any rivalries or squabbles were quickly forgotten and New York’s Bravest went to work doing what they do best: saving lives and property.
First arriving units found heavy fire in the bedroom of an apartment on the 30th floor – careless smoking had set a mattress ablaze, and the fire had by now extended to the entire bedroom, which was fully involved. Working in fierce heat and smoke conditions that are typical of fireproof-building construction, and without the benefit of any outside ventilation, Ladder 10 Firefighter/Chauffeur John Morabito and Ladder 10 Firefighter Dan Cavanaugh, who was assigned to the Irons position that day, began a search of the fire apartment.
As Cavanaugh reached the kitchen area of the apartment, he located 50-year-old Charles Maljar on the floor of the kitchen, unconscious and not breathing. After transmitting a “10-45” (Victim Found) on his radio, he was joined by Morabito, and together they dragged Maljar out of his apartment and into the hallway outside.
As members of Engine 6 passed them on their way in to extinguish the flames, Morabito and Cavanaugh immediately began CPR, while simultaneously working to remove Maljar from the scene. Dressed in full turnout gear, and having to either lift or drag Maljar’s heavy unconscious body the length of the hallway, up and over hose lines and other obstacles, they continued efforts to revive him even as they moved him into an elevator. As they reached the lobby their efforts paid off; Maljar was exhibiting a weak pulse as they passed him over to FDNY paramedics, who immediately rushed him to NYU Downtown Hospital.
In a general sense, rescues are an everyday part of a New York City firefighter’s job. But by staying with the victim and not giving up with their efforts for CPR, Firefighters Morabito and Cavanaugh went above and beyond the call of duty, and it is for this reason they we honor them today.