Sunday, March 17, 2013
Talk about a heroic homecoming.
A firefighter who teamed with fellow
smoke-eaters during a rescue operation overseas helped pull a Queens family
from their burning home on Saturday — his first day on the job since returning
And Jim Denniston, 36, said plucking
the 40-year-old woman and three children — ages 8, 7 and 5 — to safety was a
great welcome home. “It does feel good to be back,” he said.
Denniston — who spent weeks with an
all-FDNY rescue squad flying into combat to tend to wounded soldiers — was
about to end his overnight shift when a call came at 7:45 a.m. that a Rockaway
Blvd. home was on fire.
When Denniston and his crew arrived
to the three-story Ozone Park home, a cop pointed them to a woman and three
children yelling from the windows. The family was trapped by flames inside the
Denniston, along with Lt. Brian
Santosus and firefighters Dominick Fancavilla, Jean Tanis and Dennis O’Keefe —
all of Engine Co. 285 — jumped out of the truck and raced to the burning house.
Some of the smoke-eaters grabbed neighbors’ ladders to pull out the children
from the second floor as Denniston and O’Keefe yanked a ladder from their truck
to get the woman on the top floor. All four victims were handed over to EMTs,
who took them to Jamaica Hospital with minor injuries.
Denniston returned to his Northport,
L.I., home in December after three months in Afghanistan with the 101st Rescue
Squadron of the New York Air National Guard.
The helicopter crew — four FDNY
firefighters — was deployed to more than 50 missions and saved nearly 100
lives. Denniston was stationed with the Guard in Long Island until last week.