Mass. firefighters make 'hell of a save' at 3-alarmer

Firefighters could just make out the elderly woman's silhouette through the thermal imaging camera


By Jordan Graham
The Boston Herald

BROOKLINE, Mass. — Hero firefighters battled a three-alarm blaze and billowing smoke to rescue an elderly Brookline woman who had collapsed on her couch yesterday — finding her in the nick of time with the help of a handheld thermal-imaging device.

"I could see her silhouetted with the thermal imager through the heavy smoke. I could see her silhouetted on the couch, I made my way to her, grabbed her, realized thankfully she was still alive, and proceeded to get her out," said Brookline fire Capt. John Teahan of Ladder 2.

Teahan and firefighter Tom Francis entered the building from the rear while flames were coming out of the basement and smoke was billowing, with close to zero visibility on the first floor. Using a thermal imager, Teahan and Francis made a sweep of the building, and spotted the woman in the living room, lying on a couch.

"Without the thermal imager I probably wouldn't have seen her as quick as I did. It would have taken a lot longer, and the situation might not have turned out the way it was," Teahan said.

Teahan was quick to give credit to the rest of Ladder 2 and Engine 1, but Francis said his boss is the one who should be commended.

"This was a hell of a save by the captain. He found the body, he was deep into the fire," Francis said. "It was a hell of a save, and he's giving too much credit to anyone else."

The woman, who lives on the first floor of the triple-decker, was recovering at a local hospital, Brookline fire chief Paul Ford said.

"She has been taken to the hospital. As I understand right now she is doing OK," he said.

The three-alarm fire — reported by a 911 call by a neighbor — prompted a large response from Cambridge and Boston firefighters as well as Brookline.

"They knocked that fire down where it was, they prevented its spread any farther than when they got here, and in a congested neighborhood like we have here, the result of what we have is excellent," Ford said.

A relative of the rescued woman said she is in her 80s, and praised the quick work of firefighters.

"We are extremely grateful. The Brookline police and fire departments were absolutely spectacular," the relative said, declining to identify herself. "We also want to thank whoever called 911."

For Francis, the rescue was especially significant.

"It's a hell of a way to start the year," he said.

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(c)2015 the Boston Herald

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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