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Michael Cosgrove, Selden volunteer firefighter, honored

Legislator Muratore honors Michael Cosgrove with the Suffolk

Legislator Muratore honors Michael Cosgrove with the Suffolk County Fire Academy's Gold Medal of Valor. Credit: Handout

A Selden volunteer firefighter, whose hands were burned when he tried to pull a man from a neighbor's fiery house, will get a national heroism award that also comes with $10,000 for the fire department.

Michael Cosgrove, a lieutenant, will be presented Tuesday night with the annual Liberty Mutual Firemark Award for Heroism, chosen from 150 nominees by a panel of officials from international and national firefighter associations. The ceremony will be at the firehouse.

Two years ago on July 3, Cosgrove rushed down his block to a burning house before fire crews arrived.

After clearing out first-floor occupants, he heard that a man was trapped on the second floor, so he propped a 6-foot ladder against the side of the house.

He was able to drag Henry Zdenek III, 26, only partially out the window because the ladder was too short, but Cosgrove held onto the man, refusing to let him slip back into the smoky room as the sound of sirens heralded help.

"I just tried to save somebody, like any normal person would do," Cosgrove said.

Despite his efforts, Zdenek died. Cosgrove suffered second- and third-degree burns.

Cosgrove, who works as a technician for Cablevision, Newsday's parent company, was nominated as a local hero last year by Edward Beekman, executive sales representative in Liberty Mutual's office in Port Jefferson Station.

Beekman said the insurance company will send Cosgrove's family on a paid vacation to Walt Disney World in Florida.

The award will also help the community, Selden Fire Chief Joseph Leavens said.

The $10,000 will buy slender, red-and-white, 4-foot poles to be attached to Selden's 700 hydrants to mark them in heavy winter snows, Leavens said.

Hydrants are often buried in snow, he said, and while homeowners usually tell firefighters where to dig for the hydrants, they're often wrong. The importance of the poles was underscored by February's blizzard, which dumped more than 28 inches of snow in Suffolk and left some roads impassable and unplowed for more than a week.

The poles also are reflective, and several other fire districts on Long Island have already put them in their communities, Leavens said. "This way, everybody will see the hydrants and this will protect the community," he said.

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