Firefighter Recalls Desperate Bid to Save Family Killed in Harlem Fire

NY Post - May 09, 2019

by Alex Taylor and Ben Feuerherd

The FDNY firefighter who was captured on video trying desperately to save a doomed family of six from a Harlem apartment fire early Wednesday told The Post that he was doing everything in his power to save the family.

Peter Constantine, 40, spoke to The Post from his Westchester County home, less than a day after a mother, her stepson and four young kids perished in the blaze at the Fred Samuels Houses in Harlem.

“We just tried as hard as we could to get in and make a push, try to make a difference. That’s what everybody does. That’s what they teach us. But unfortunately we came up short,” Constantine said.

“At that time of night you think: ‘There’s people in there.’ ‘You got to get in there.’ Try to make a difference. That’s what you do,” he added.

Video captured by neighbor Angel Cardenas shows Constantine standing on a fire escape, using a special hook in repeated attempts to break his way inside — as flames shot out of the apartment in front of him.

“We just tried to do our job and the outcome is not what we’d like. It’s a sad day for the city,” Constantine added.

“That poor family,” he said.

Despite his effort, Constantine said he didn’t deserve any special praise.

“I’m not a hero,” he said “It’s a tragic day. We’re just trying to do our job.”