Queens Firefighter Rescues 12-Year-Old Boy

NY Post - January 20, 2011


A hero firefighter plucked a 12-year-old boy to safety after a fire swept through his Queens home this morning.

The 6:20 a.m. blaze was sparked by a hair dryer that ignited flammable material on the first floor of the two-story dwelling on 202nd St. near 45th Rd., fire officials said.

Firefighter Antonio Velez, 33, of Engine 320, was ready to douse the flames, when he heard 12-year-old Jesse Iacovetta's desperate cries, sources said.

"We were at the front door of the fire building when I heard the screams coming from inside. I was waiting for my house line to be charged."

In a split-second decision, he handed the hose to his partner and made a mad dash into the burning house.

Firefighters from the ladder company had already raced into the home but Velez rushed inside towards Iacovetta's wails.

"It was black smoke, all pretty low to the ground. I was on my knees. I put on my face piece, and turned on my air."

The living room was engulfed in flames as Velez made his way into the smoke-filled apartment on the first floor.

"I felt I had no time. I couldn't see the wall it was so dark. Everything was covered in soot. I couldn't see anything."

Velez crawled into the kitchen where Iacovetta's screams got closer.

"He was yelling, no words, just pain. When I reached him I couldn't see or tell or what type of injury. I brought him out and handed him off and EMS treated him."

Iacovetta suffered minor injuries and was taken to Jacobi Medical Center in stable condition.

After getting the boy safely out, the smoke-eater picked up his hose and continued battling the fire. It was under control by 6:40 a.m.

Velez chalked up the first rescue of his career to seven years of training. "This is what we're trained to do. I'm very grateful I work with a great group of guys. I'm thankful the boy is okay."