Retired firefighter knocked out battling own garage fire

When John Ryan opened his garage door, the influx of oxygen caused a flashover

By FireRescue1 Staff

BUTLER, N.J. — A retired firefighter had a close call after passing out while trying to extinguish a garage fire. 

John Ryan, 53, attempted to extinguish a small fire in his garage. He was unable to use a garden hose since the water was shut off for the winter, so he thought he could stomp out the fire, reported ABC7. When he opened the garage door, the influx of oxygen caused a flashover. 

Ryan was knocked unconscious, and his wife, also a former firefighter, called 911 after she was unable to drag him to safety. A police officer who arrived on scene was also unable to pull Ryan to safety.

Sgt. Colleen Pascale, who is also a volunteer firefighter, soon arrived on scene and the two officers pulled Ryan from the garage. 

“I certainly think the fire department training has helped me throughout my career, in responding to any fire alarm calls,” Sgt. Pascale said. 

Ryan, a 26-year veteran, who has served as fire chief, said he has always told others not to run into burning buildings. 

“I thought I could. I thought I had time. There was no time — literally seconds it took off,” Ryan said. 

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