Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: Wednesday, June 7, 2000

Release #214-00

 
Contact: Sunny Mindel/Mary Lasher 212/788-295


MAYOR GIULIANI AND FIRE COMMISSIONER THOMAS VON ESSEN
PRESIDE AT ANNUAL FIRE DEPARTMENT MEDAL DAY CEREMONY

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen today presided at the New York City Fire Department's annual Medal Day Ceremony, honoring 49 Firefighters, Fire Officers and Fire Marshals for 40 acts of heroism and valor performed during 1999. This year the ceremony was held on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan. The medal recipients were cited for their lifesaving work at fires, building collapses, water rescues and at other emergencies where members went above and beyond the usual everyday heroics performed by New York's Bravest.

"Today, we are honoring the Bravest, the men and women of the New York City Fire Department," Mayor Giuliani said. "Their dedication and courage sends a message to New Yorkers that, when in trouble, someone will be there to answer your calls for help. In the case of the FDNY, that someone is willing to risk injury, and even his or her own life, to help another."

Commissioner Thomas Von Essen said, "Today, in celebrating Medal Day we pay homage to those who by their acts of bravery, selflessness and dedication have distinguished themselves by continually fulfilling their commitment to the people of New York City, by standing out as the best of the bravest. The enthusiasm and determination shown on a daily basis by you as well as by every other firefighter in this city is a tribute to your profession."

This year the Fire Department's coveted Gordon Bennett Medal was awarded to Firefighter Stephen P. Fenley of Ladder Company 78. Firefighter Fenley is credited with the daring rescue of a victim from the top floor of a 2nd alarm blaze in Staten Island. Notwithstanding the intense heat and thick smoke of the raging inferno and without regard for his own safety, Firefighter Fenley dove head-first through a window into the third floor of the building to rescue the victim, 61-year old Carl Pandolfo, who had suffered burns to 100% of his body. As Fenley exited the now-fully-engulfed third floor with his lifeless victim over his shoulders, he was forced to stand in order to complete the rescue, causing burns to his head, face and ears. Despite his own injuries, Firefighter Fenley remained undaunted as he successfully removed the victim to the street and to waiting medical crews.

The Thomas E. Crimmins Medal was awarded posthumously to Fire Captain Vincent G. Fowler of the 13th Division, who died on June 3, 1999. Captain Fowler gave his life as he applied every ounce of ability and bravery he possessed when he and his team carried out their search of a smoke-filled, cluttered, rubbish laden one-story private dwelling. As conditions worsened, and fearing for the safety of his men, Fowler gave the order to evacuate. Tragically, the same obstacles which hampered their advances hindered their exodus and Fowler depleted his air supply was forced to remove his mask. Even as the super heated poisonous gasses filled his lungs he continued to direct the withdrawal. Without the benefit of oxygen, Fowler soon became disoriented and collapsed. Although his men tried to aid him he succumbed to cardiac arrest as a result of his injuries

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