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22 dramatic, wild and heartwarming firefighter news and rescues from 2022

From a “spaceship” fire to an impromptu station wedding, and even 792 jars of Ragú, 2022 gave firefighters across the country some unique experiences

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Firefighters faced extreme situations in 2022 – rescues, disaster response and countless heart-pounding calls. But they also found themselves square in the middle of some response efforts on the odder side, plus many heartwarming moments they’ll likely never forget.

Here are 22 of our favorite stories from the year.

Dramatic rescues

No year-end roundup can include all the harrowing rescues, but these stand out.

1. Video: ‘You have to work together,’ says FDNY firefighter describing dramatic high-rise rescue

Four crewmembers were on the rope for the lifesaving maneuver. Two weeks later, they received proclamations for the daring work.


The high-rise fire that started with a lithium-ion battery problem injured 43 civilians, firefighters and police officers, FDNY said.

Photo/Theodore Parisienne/Tribune News Service

2. Rescue crews rappel 150 feet to assist Pittsburgh bridge collapse victims

In January, a 50-year-old bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh, requiring rescue crews to rappel nearly 150 feet and make a human chain to reach occupants of a bus that had fallen into a park ravine.


A 50-year-old bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh, prompting rescuers to rappel nearly 150 feet while others formed a human chain to help rescue multiple people from a dangling bus.

Photo/Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

3. ‘I cannot let her die’: Fla. FF jumps back in burning Uber to rescue girlfriend

Broward Sheriff’s Office Fire Rescue Firefighter Bryan Aparicio was off-duty, and he and his girlfriend, Sue, were looking forward to their cruise vacation. Traveling along Interstate 95, the car they were in became immersed in flames. They were two of five people injured in a Florida fuel tanker fire in October.

Extreme extrications

You won’t look at a pizza oven the same way again. Or an escalator. Maybe not an electrical tower either.

4. Photos: Ga. firefighters cut man out of Little Caesars pizza oven vent

The man became trapped as he tried to crawl down through a vent.

5. Md. firefighters rip out wall to free alleged burglar wedged in chimney

“I kept hearing some really loud banging noises, some thudding noises,” said Ibrar Khan, who had been enjoying a fire while watching a movie with his family.

Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service members had to rip a wall apart with their hands.

6. Calif. fire, EMS crews free teen whose hand got stuck in mall escalator

Orange County Battalion Chief Michael Morganstern said crewmembers gave the 13-year-old girl pain medication while disassembling the mechanism in August.


The single-engine aircraft was ensnared about 100 feet off the ground.

Afterward, Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Chief Scott Goldstein gave Chief Marc Bashoor all the details.


A small plane slammed into a power line tower in Maryland, injuring two people and leaving nearby residents without electricity.

AP Photo/Tom Brenner

Simply strange

Have you had weird days? These firefighters have responded to truly odd calls.

8. Ind. FFs attempt rescue on frozen lake ... for mannequin head

“Sometimes you never know what type of call we might respond to,” officials said in February. “Thankfully this one turned out to be nothing serious.”

9. Photos: ‘The spaceship is no more’ after N.C. FFs respond to blaze at rare structure

The so-called Frisco UFO House – a metallic-looking silver home built to resemble a flying saucer – appears to have melted.

10. Sheriff: Man trying to kill spider with lighter ignited 60-acre Utah wildfire

A man with a lighter admitted to starting the fire. (Did anyone tell Billy Joel about this? This person did start the fire.)

Personal bests

These firefighters made strides far from firehouses – in the wild, on stages and in a garden. Talk about personal growth!

11. Alaska Firefighter-EMT conquers the elements to win extreme race

Jaclyn Arndt of the Homer Volunteer Fire Department pushed herself to compete in the 2022 Iditarod Trail Invitational 350 -- “one of the most challenging experiences on the planet.” And she won!


Jaclyn Arndt’s time was 7 days, 20 hours and 45 minutes, making her the 2022 Women’s Ski Champion.

Photo/Jaclyn Arndt

12. Volunteer firefighter-EMT crowned Miss Virginia

Kailee Horvath is a volunteer firefighter and EMT with Loudoun Fire Rescue and the Ashburn Volunteer Fire Rescue Department. She also is a nursing student.

13. Photos: Pa. firefighter grows 1,177-pound pumpkin

Erie Firefighter John Stewart must have quite a green thumb. This is his second extremely large pumpkin.

Love and luck

Never mind getting to the church on time or to a hospital. Sometimes good things happen where you are.

14. Texas crew organizes last-minute Valentine’s Day wedding at station

Driver/Operator Dylan Fischer was about to miss his own wedding due to staffing issues. But his coworkers helped him and his bride have their ceremony.

15. Firefighter-paramedic wins $1M in Va. lottery

In August, Firefighter-paramedic Duane McFarland could not believe that he had won until his wife confirmed it.

16. Calif. firefighter-EMT, wife deliver own baby on side of road

Fresno firefighter-EMT Taylor Cruz said he went “into work mode.”

Animal rescues

Our favorite feline rescue of the year wasn’t from a tree. And while cats defy all kinds of boundaries, sometimes so does a moose.

17. Video: N.J. firefighters rescue monitor lizard from tree

The Woolwich Fire Co. crew found the 4-foot reptile in May.

18. Tenn. crew frees kitten from Walmart soda machine, suggests ‘Pepsi’ for a name

Morristown firefighters safely coaxed the fuzzy, little cat out of the machine in June.

19. ‘No way anybody’s gonna believe this': Alaska firefighters rescue moose from basement

The young but large animal fell into a bedroom and needed help from firefighters, wildlife troopers and biologists.

20. Ohio FD K-9 finds missing disabled Texas man in under half an hour

It’s not always animals who need a rescue. Sometimes they are rescuers.

“My dog picked up the track right away from where Jacob was last seen in the woods,” Windsor Assistant Fire Chief Callie Mallory said in July.

Fun with food and drink

Getting free food or drinks for National First Responders Day is great, but these firefighters got some more nice freebies.

21. Tenn. fire department to receive $50K donation of coffee

Firefighters need coffee as much as anyone, but the Chattanooga Fire Department got a donation of $50,000 worth.

22. Video: Ragú delivers 792 jars of pasta sauce to Okla. firefighters

And who could forget the video of Tahlequah firefighters saying “Cook like a mother!” that led to a lot of free pasta sauce.

Leila Merrill served as an assistant editor for FireRescue1 and EMS1. Merrill has worked as a writer, editor, copy editor, digital producer, journalist and communications professional for the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle and other companies. She double-majored in English and communications at Trinity University.