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‘I knew my job was to get to the roof': FDNY FF describes Brooklyn rope rescue

Firefighter Patrick Gale took his harness and secured himself to the rope that would lower him to the trapped man


FDNY Response Videos/YouTube

By Joseph Ostapiuk
Staten Island Advance

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — It started as a call for smoke in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn at around 6 a.m. on Tuesday. Soon after, it was discovered at least one person was trapped inside a burning apartment building located at the intersection of 16th Street and 8th Avenue.

Patrick Gale and the members of FDNY Engine 282 in Borough Park, Brooklyn, were already en route to the scene, going over a plan to tackle the blaze and rescue anyone in need of aid.

“I knew my job was to get to the roof when we got there,” Gale, a seven-year veteran of the department and a former Eltingville resident, told the Advance/ during a phone interview.

The response launched a “multi-pronged” coordinated team effort, FDNY Deputy Assistant Fire Chief John Sarrocco said at the scene. “We had hose lines stretched on the interior, we had firefighters go on the roof and firefighters on the fire escape.”

Gale and Firefighter James McHugh, of Squad 1, made it to the roof and began the initial steps of a rope rescue as a naked man stood on a ledge four stories above the ground while trying to escape oppressive billows of smoke.

McHugh tied a rope to the bulkhead of the building where the stairs led to the roof. Meanwhile, Gale stepped into a harness and secured himself to the line that would be used to rappel the face of the structure.

Gale was lowered by his fellow firefighter, according to video posted by ABC7 Eyewitness News, and reached the man, who was hanging on to cable wires on the outside of the building while balancing on a narrow ledge.

“It seemed like it had to happen pretty quick,” Gale said of the rescue.

The man wrapped his legs around Gale as the pair continue their descent to the ground and out of danger. “He was happy,” said Gale. “He was very thankful.”

The man suffered non-life-threatening injuries, officials said.

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EARLIER: Watch: FDNY rope rescue saves man trapped in Brooklyn fire