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Home » Valor Awards » 2006 Individual Valor Award

2006 Individual Valor Award


Firefighter Patrick Murphy
Jersey City Fire Department

Three minutes before midnight, Firefighter Murphy was driving Rescue One up Duncan Avenue on his way back from an earlier incident.   In a single instant he smelled the smoke, saw the glow of fire, heard the yelling of a large, hostile crowd, and above all, he heard the screams of a hysterical young mother at the barred window of the burning house.

Engine Nine was responding as Murphy screeched to a halt.  Firefighters Torre and Morales took a 24-foot ladder and raised it to the second-story roof.  Thirty-year-old Jennifer Gwinnet was trying to climb over the security bars to get out the window.  Morales and Murphy assisted her, but the window shattered and a chunk of glass pierced Murphy’s turnout gear, cutting his arm.

The sobbing woman told the firefighters her two young children were still trapped inside.  Wounded, and without either a charged line or search rope to protect himself, Murphy entered the second floor apartment.  Unable to see because of the smoke, he crouched close to the floor to minimize the assault of the intense heat.  Groping his way through a bedroom, he found a two-month-old boy strapped in a car seat atop a dresser.  He brought the baby to the window where he handed him to other members of Rescue One.

He knew there was another child somewhere.  Feeling his way along walls and through doorways he located another room with several small beds.  They were not occupied but he felt around the floor and found a three-year-old boy.  Injured but still conscious, the boy had hidden from the flames.  Murphy carried him to the front window where Rescue One firefighters lowered him to safety.  Not certain whether there were any more victims, Murphy continued his search until his comrades assured him all occupants had been accounted for.

A Bayonne native who now lives in Freehold with his wife, Michelle, and four-year-old daughter Meghan, Murphy attended Hudson Catholic High School and New Jersey City University.  He became a firefighter seven years ago and has been awarded the Unit Citation and named Firefighter of the Year in 2001.


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