‘Heroic’ firefighters use rare rope drill to rescue 3 people from burning NYC building

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The FDNY has released heart-stopping footage of its firefighters using a rope in a rarely used maneuver to dramatically rescue three people from a burning New York City building on Friday. The fire left one person dead and 17 others injured.

The incredible footage shows a courageous fireman dangling on the rope against the side of the Harlem apartment building with a rescued resident in his arms as smoke billows up into the air. 

In an aerial scene captured in night vision mode, firefighters can be seen setting up the daring rescue effort atop the six-story building at 2 St. Nicholas Place which involved firefighters grabbing hold of one end of the rope as another crew member slides down the rope to a window to grab a despaired resident. 

“Our members attach themselves to a rope and then another member goes on to the rope and goes off the side of the building, goes down to the window and grabs the person that is trapped by the fire, FDNY Chief of Operations John Hodgens said during a press conference at the scene flanked by his firefighters and New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

Incredible video has captured the moment courageous FDNY firefighters rescue three people from a fast-moving residential fire in New York City on Friday. (FDNY)

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“This happened three times at this fire. Three firefighters performed this evolution. We usually have one of these a year or two. This was three at one fire, a very heroic action,” Hodgens said.

Hodgens said the fire was “very challenging fire” and that his team were on the scene within three and a half minutes of receiving a 911 call for the inferno which broke out at around 2:15 p.m.

They found three unconscious victims on the floor of the upper hallways after beating back some of the flames while three more residents were at the window screaming for help.

The three residents had fled to the window as the hallways and stairways were blocked by the smoke and flames only to find out that there was no fire escape. 

Firefighters had difficulty reaching the trio and then decided to deploy the rescue method Hodgens described as “the life-saving rope evolution.”

A firefighter speaks during a press conference with New York City Mayor Eric Adams

Firefighter Jason Lopez, centered, who was lowered down to carry out the daring rescue. New York City Mayor Eric Adams is pictured on the far left. (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

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Firefighter Jason Lopez said his team practices the drill twice a week in case they need to use the life-saving measure. 

“We always train like the real thing so when the real thing happens, we know what we’re doing,” Lopez said. He thanked his colleague who was on the rooftop clinging onto the rope, saying “I trust him with my life.”

Witnesses told Fox 5 they saw one person jump out of the burning residential building. It is unclear if this was the person who died.

“They were on the window sill, and they were trying to escape, but it’s all the way on the top floor … they were hanging onto the window. I guess they couldn’t hang on for long, and they fell to the ground,” witness Michelle Paradis told FOX 5 NY.

The FDNY has not confirmed the cause of the fire yet, but FOX 5 NY reports seeing e-bikes and their batteries being pulled from the building. E-bike batteries have been responsible for a surge in fires in the city over the past few years. E-bikes sparked 267 fires which caused 18 deaths and 150 injuries in the city in 2023, according to the FDNY.

Several blown out windows on a six-story building

Blown out windows of the Harlem building that caught fire on Friday and where the rescue took place. (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

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Resident Regina Shaw, who lives on the top floor, told the New York Post that she said she and her son grabbed their dogs and ran down the fire escape when their fire alarms began going off. 

“My three firearm alarms went off and then all the alarms in the building,” the 58-year-old retired train operator said. 

“There was smoke coming out of the windows. Smoke everywhere. I heard people screaming, just screaming.”

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