Brewster volunteer firefighter Ryan Bonamici was honored on Friday June 16,2023 at the Hudson Valley Fire Convention in Queensbury, New York (near Lake George) as Hudson ValleyFirefighter of the Year.
Second Assistant Chief Steven Miller wrote the following description of the incident:
"On March 8 at about 10:10 p.m., the Brewster Fire Department was dispatched to the Lake Carmel Fire District for a structural fire with reports of someone trapped inside. A crew of firefighters led by Captain Andrew McMurray quickly turned out and were responding in less than 2 minutes following the initial dispatch.
Upon arrival, McMurray split his crew, assigning Mathew Chiara to assist the first engine chauffeur in establishing a positive water source, Anthony Cosentino and William May to assist the first engine crew in stretching the attack line, and Ryan Bonamici to assist him in performing primary searches of the fire area.
Heavy fire prevented use of the building's main entrance until the attack line could be placed into operation. However McMurray and Bonamici knew there was no time to spare and that an alternate means of entry had to be found.
While sizing up the side of a building, a frantic police officer grabbed the attention of McMurray, saying they believed he saw someone through a bedroom window.
A police officer broke one of the windows to the room where the victim was reported seen, and McMurray and Bonamici entered the building. Bonamici dove head-first into the window and commenced a right-handed search of the room. While McMurray followed behind with a left-handed search and immediately located the interior door to the room.
While McMurray made a quick search of the hallway, Bonamici searched the room and found the victim unconscious and clinging to life, He yelled to McMurray that he had found the person and began the arduous task of dragging him to the window they had entered through.
McMurray made radio notification to the incident commander that the victim was located and that help would be needed at the rear of the building to facilitate his removal. Chief officers from Brewster and Carmel fire departments began coordinating the victim's removal to awaiting EMS crews outside the building, and firefighter May entered the building to help.
With conditions inside the room deteriorating, Bonamici, May and McMurray pulled the man up and over the window and out of the building to additional firefighters that had arrived ". McMurray then ensured his crew was accounted for and they too, exited the building.
The victim was brought to awaiting EMS resources where he was treated for his injuries and transported to the nearest hospital.
'All operating crews worked together flawlessly to suppress the fire conditions that were heavily advanced on arrival and perform primary searches of the building,' the department wrote in a statement.
"While their dedication to training, bravery and ability to put the lives of others before their own was unmatched that evening, firefighter Bonamici especially went above and beyond the call of duty to not only locate, but initiate the removal of a victim under high heat, zero visibility, without the protection of a charged attack line"
The photos in this article were taken by Frank Becerra