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Bellmore Firefighter Honored for Saving Life

(Credit: Chris Boyle)
(Credit: Chris Boyle)
Editor’s Note: This article was written and submitted by Chris Boyle.

The residents of Bellmore have a real-life hero walking in their midst, and this week he was honored for the greatest gift one can bestow — risking one’s life to save another.

John Curley has worn many hats in his illustrious career. In addition to being a 25-year veteran and ex-Chief of the Bellmore Fire Department, he has also been a NYC Fireman for the past 17 years, and before that, a police officer.

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On the morning of Nov. 12, Curley and his son, John Jr., were heading to Connecticut to pick up boilers to help Bellmore residents who needed them as a result of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

After Receiving a text alert at 7:39 a.m. from the Bellmore Fire Department that there was a two-story house fire on Shore Road, Curley and his son put the trip on hold and headed straight for the location of the blaze, arriving before anyone else.

“We got to the scene, and people were screaming. It was crazy,” Curley said. “I looked at the house, and there was a makeshift ladder set-up on the side of it. Someone had put a ladder on top of a filing cabinet. I saw people huddled together across the street, and I asked if everyone was out, but they said their 93 year-old mother was still in there on the second floor.”  

Relying on his many years of experience, Curley climbed up the jury-rigged ladder and, after breaking the window of the mother’s room with his bare hands, plunged head-long into the burning home.

“I saw her lying on the floor,” he said. “apparently, she had tried to make it to the door and was overcome by the smoke and had collapsed. The door was already starting to burn off the hinges, fire was coming through the walls. I dragged her to the window, held her in my arms and tried to carry her down.”

Curley said that the ladder had started to tilt backwards, which would have possibly resulted in a crippling fall had his son and the arriving Bellmore Fire Chief Danny Holl not personally braced the ladder during his descent.

At the hospital, Curley was treated for a deep laceration to his left cheek, minor lacerations to his lower back and scalp, as well as burns to his fingertips, scalp and forearm. The woman he saved was treated there as well and is expected to recover.

“She was alive, and she acknowledged me at the hospital...they had her on a respirator,” Curley said.

On Tuesday, Legis. David Denenberg, D-Merrick, honored Curley, his son, and Chief Holl at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Legislative Building in Mineola, presenting them with a Good Samaritan Award for their heroic efforts in safeguarding the residents of Bellmore.

“I think that all of us know that our volunteer Fire Department, day in and day out, put their lives on the line to protect us,” Denenberg said. “John Curley, his son and Chief Holl, went above and beyond. They were heroes, and literally saved the lives of complete strangers, but that’s what our volunteer firemen and women do, day in and day out.”

In addition to presenting Curley, his son, and Chief Holl with Good Samaritan Awards, Denenberg also declared Dec. 17 John Curley Day in Nassau County.

“He was injured in saving a life,” Denenberg said. “It’s said that there’s a special place in heaven for anyone who would put their lives on the line for a brother. You saved a total stranger. I think there’s a penthouse in Heaven for you, John. I think I speak for everyone here when I say that you’re our hero.”

Curley, accepting the honors, remained humble, saying that he was merely doing his lifelong civic duty that morning.

“It’s an honor to do this,” Curley said. “You train for over 25 years. In your wildest dreams, this would never happen, and to have such a positive result. I thank you for honoring me, but it’s my pleasure to do it.”

What do you think of Curley's efforts? Tell us in the comments below.

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