Craig Giuffre was an 11 year veteran of the FDNY assigned to L-32 in the Bronx. In the early morning of Easter 2007, L-32 responded to a smoking manhole. After positioning the apparatus, Giuffre began donning his gear. Suddenly an unrelated manhole to Craig’s left exploded. The blast sent Giuffre flying and knocked him unconscious. He sustained head trauma and had seizures, effectively ending his career.
Now as a civilian and many miles away from the daily grind of the Bronx, nothing could have prepared Giuffre for what was going to take place in the early morning hours of November 7th 2008.
Sound asleep in his rear bedroom, Giuffre was awoken by the frantic screams of his daughter. She was yelling that the house across the street was on fire. Craig quickly changed and went outside to find his neighbor’s home fully involved. Fire was venting out the three front windows and the front door.
Craig heard the screams of his neighbor, Rafael Gomez. He was yelling that his bed-ridden mother was still inside. Seeing that no fire department personnel were on the scene, he realized he needed to do something. After grabbing a pipe bender from his garage, Giuffre ran across the street and to the rear of his neighbor’s house. Craig’s only option was a rear bedroom. So with pipe bender in hand, he cleared out the rear window. Relying solely on his training and without the protection of a handline or any protective gear, Giuffre made entry into the house. The room was charged with smoke from floor to ceiling and fire could be seen in the front of the house. Giuffre could hear the faint screams of Ramona Hilario, so on his hands and knees he began crawling toward the sounds. He told Hilario to keep yelling. Giuffre found Hilario and with all his strength, managed to pull her to safety.
Giuffre’s son, Caesar, watched in awe as his father sprung into action. “He’s a hero and not just because he’s my father”. A humbled Giuffre said, “I relied on my training”. By the time firefighters arrived at the home just before 4 am, flames were already venting through the roof. Shortly thereafter, a partial collapse of the second floor occurred. Ramona Hilario is alive today thanks to the courageous actions of Craig Giuffre.
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