Four Syracuse firemen earn state ‘Firefighter of the Year’ award

(WSYR-TV) — Three firemen from Syracuse were honored by New York State as “Firefighter of the Year” for the fearlessness they showed at a house fire on Fitch Street last year.

Rodney Mattison, Christopher DeStefano, and Lt. Gene Johnson, and the rest of their company geared up at 3 a.m. and headed to a house fire last April.

“We responded to a structure fire with up to eight people trapped, conditions outside were a lot of snow, slippery roads. Everything was stacked against us,” Lt. Johnson said.

The three went straight to the roof fighting flames in their faces.

“It’s a moment where you have to channel the fear. You’re going to have that initial fear, of what is unknown until you see it, but again, that’s where your training gives you the confidence, and you know the people with you are working as hard as you are to complete the same job, which is put the fire out,” Mattison said.

Four people, including a baby, died in the fire that night. Charles DuBois was convicted earlier this year of intentionally setting it.

“Yeah, it’s terrible because you always hope for a better outcome. That’s why we’re here, hoping to save somebody, if at all possible, but we can deal with it I think. Knowing the three of us because we know we did everything we could, but you’re always hoping for a better outcome than that,” DeStefano said.

Fourth honored for helping save teen that fell out window

Syracuse firefighter Kevin Cox also received the award for saving a teen who fell out of a window last year.

He noticed the teen was still bleeding after being put on a stretcher and helped out until they could get the teen into surgery.

“I’ve always been pretty good at what I do, you know, I take pride in training hard, working hard, and you know, a situation like that it’s tough for just a handful of people to see everything, and the timing of it was that I walked in and was able to see something that wasn’t seen because they were busy doing other things, you know, it’s good luck and good timing,” Cox said.


For more local news, follow Josh Martin on Twitter @JoshMartinNC9

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