A probationary firefighter sustained severe burns over five percent of his body when he fell through a collapsing floor while fighting a three-alarm house fire on Staten Island. As the New York Daily News reported, “Lawrence Wasser, 23, suffered second and third degree burns to his hands after he fell from the first floor of the two-story home on Sinclair Ave. near Maguire Ave. in Huguenot into the basement where the fire was raging about 8:45 p.m. Monday,” February 1, 2016.
The Staten Island resident had just graduated from the Fire Academy in November; Monday night’s blaze was the first major fire he’d fought. Heavy fire conditions caused 12 supporting beams to give way, dropping Wasser into the flame-filled basement. Within minutes, fast-acting FDNY firefighters pushed in with a hose line and rescued him. Wasser was reported in stable condition at Staten Island University Hospital North. At least four other firefighters suffered minor injuries.
New York City Fire Department Chief of Department James Leonard told ABC 7, “We were extremely, extremely lucky. It’s a large house.” More than 100 firefighters took about an hour to extinguish the blaze.
Burn injuries are an ever-present threat to the lives and careers of FDNY firefighters as are building collapses: the National Fire Protection Association lists structural collapse as the cause of three percent of firefighter fatalities.
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