Firefighters are the heroes people turn to when they are at the greatest risk.
But who comes to the rescue of the fireman when he’s in trouble?
That was the case for former Syosset Fire Chief Tom Feeney, when he awoke early Wednesday morning to his Labrador, Seven, barking frantically.
“[Seven] went into my daughter’s room around 4:30 a.m., jumped on her bed and started barking,” Feeney said.
Knowing something was wrong, 7-year-old Brooklyn Feeney woke her parents, who went to investigate. Tom Feeney immediately noticed a haze as he walked into the dining room and smelled smoke coming from the basement door.
“I thought, OK, something’s on fire,” he said.
The 24-year fire department veteran opened the door and saw “black smoke and fire rolling across the basement ceiling,” he said.
Stepping down into the room, smoke encircled his waist. He closed the door and evacuated his family.
“There was heavy fire going on when we arrived,” said current Syosset Fire Chief Robert Kaplan. “Heavy black smoke was billowing out of the front door.”
It took the department 30 minutes to extinguish the flame and another three hours to overhaul the house, opening walls and removing any contents that might reignite the blaze.
Extensive fire damage spread through the basement and into the first floor bathroom and kitchen. Smoke damaged the house, including the attic where all of the insulation had to be pulled out.
Every window on the front of the house was smashed in, and the basement sustained significant water damage from the hoses.
“No firefighter ever expects a fire to happen in his home,” Feeney said.
This shows that “no one’s immune from a fire, and you have to be very careful, especially this time of year with [holiday] lights,” Kaplan said.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated by the Nassau County Fire Marshal.
“As my wife would say, have smoke alarms in every room and get a dog,” Feeney said.
Photo: Former Syosset Fire Chief Tom Feeney and Seven. (Jan 7, 2012)