Originally appeared in Newday on October 18, 2020, by Matthew Chayes
Two Hicksville firefighters who along with a civilian rescued a 90-year-old woman from her burning home last month were awarded a New York State commendation award on Sunday by local state senators.
The award recipients are Capt. Christopher Moskos II and Lt. Andrew Niemczyk, according to a news release sent by Marissa Espinoza, spokeswoman for one of the state senators, James Gaughran (D-Northport).
According to News 12 Long Island, the fire in the house on Sutherland Road in Hicksville was Sept. 28, and the cause was believed to have been an electrical surge from a downed wire at a nearby utility pole. The woman was found lying unconscious on the floor was brought, breathing, to the hospital.
“We are honoring two brave firefighters who, at 5:30 in the morning, put their own lives at risk and went in and helped a 90-year-old resident, a woman who would have died if they didn’t sacrifice their own lives to go in and try to protect her,” Gaughran said in a video posted to his Facebook page documenting an award ceremony.
Speaking to News 12 in the aftermath of the fire, Moskos said: “When we got in there, we opened the door initially and there was a hard push of smoke out the door and obviously those kinds of conditions isn’t good for people who don’t have an air supply like we have.”
Fire department spokesman Owen Magee said, “It was close. The fire wasn’t immediately around her, and I guess the smoke got to her,” according to the News 12 report.
Holding the New York State Senate Commendation Award at Sunday’s ceremony before presenting it to Niemczyk, his constituent, Gaughran said: “How many people can say that they actually saved a life?”Sign up for The Classroom newsletter.
The firefighters “spared her family and our community from a terrible tragedy,” said the other state senator, Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck), who gave Moskos, her constituent, his award.
The names of the neighbor and woman weren’t available.
Each state senator can honor up to 20 people per year for the award, though fewer than that number wind up being approved due a “rigorous” process by the chamber, Espinoza said
“We just honored the firefighters today, and are in the process of securing an award for the heroic neighbor,” Espinoza said.