2006 Valiant Teamwork Award
They could see and smell smoke as they raced toward the three-story wood frame home. They hoped it would be one of those smoky but slow-burning incidents with no one in serious jeopardy. As they rounded the corner, they knew that wasn’t the case.
On that cold January morning, they could see flame already spreading through the first floor and snaking into the second. Two frightened women on the sidewalk told the firefighters they’d escaped to safety but two other women were trapped upstairs.
The men of Engine Five aimed their waterlines at the heart of the inferno while the crew of Engine Six pulled a handline off the attack pumper. Without benefit of a charged handline, Captain DeCresce, Firefighters Healy and Mulligan made their way past the fire and up a flight of interior stairs. It was terrifyingly hot and impossible to see anything, but the men did not hesitate. They knew they had only seconds before the flames would reach the landing.
They groped their way down the long hall and at its end, they found two women unconscious on the floor. DeCresce and Mulligan pulled the body of the first victim to the top of the stairs where they were able to pass her along to other firefighters who carried her outside. As flames leapt ever closer, Healy and Vega were able to rescue the second woman and bring her to safety outside.
Eighty-six year old Carmela Marto and her daughter, Carmela Ricci, were given CPR, then taken to Medical Center, and eventually transferred to St. Barnabas Burn Center suffering from burns and smoke inhalation. Fortunately, both recovered.
A 14-year veteran, DeCresce was honored by the 200 Club in 2003 and named Firefighter of the year in 2002. He earned two Class A Medals of Honor, the Gong Club Award and the Francis & Anna Lee Award. A Jersey City native, he now lives in Woodridge with his wife, Sharon, and children, Emily 9, and Philip 5. His father has worked in the Office of the Hudson County Sheriff for 40 years. He attended St. Peter’s Prep and New Jersey City State University and once owned a remodeling company.
A hero during his first major firefighting effort, Healy has been a Jersey City firefighter only seven months and previously was manager of a restaurant. He attended McNair Academic High School and New Jersey City University. Son of the Jersey City Mayor, Healy always wanted to be a firefighter and is proud of his association with the Department.
Mulligan, who has been in the Department one year, is a Jersey City native but now resides in North Bergen where he graduated from North Bergen High School. His father is a retired North Bergen firefighter and he always wanted to follow in his Dad’s heroic footsteps. Married to Marina, he has one daughter, Gail 3.
Vega, a 12-year veteran, was born in New York, attended Chelsea High, and was a manager’s assistant in Macy’s before joining the Fire Department 12 years ago. He also grew up wanting to be a firefighter and says he “loves the job.” He and his wife, Lisa, are the parents of Brent 16, Sara 13, and Lucas 22 months.
Copyright © 2005 The 200Club Hudson County - All rights reserved