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2 Massapequa students lauded for help, cool heads during house fire 

Thomas Lippolt, left, and Scott Rathjen, sophomores at

Thomas Lippolt, left, and Scott Rathjen, sophomores at Massapequa High School, helped residents during a kitchen fire in a Merrick Road home in November. Credit: Massapequa School District

Two Massapequa High School students are being praised for their heroic efforts after helping residents battle a kitchen fire.

Sophomores Thomas Lippolt and Scott Rathjen, both 15, were walking home on Merrick Road from winter sports tryouts on Nov. 15 when they encountered a boy yelling for help after a fire broke out in his house. The boy’s older brother was inside trying to put out the fire with water.

Rathjen held his shirt to his face to prevent smoke inhalation and led the older brother outside before going back in to rescue a hamster and heading to the basement to turn off the electricity. Meanwhile, Lippolt called 911 and went to a dentist’s office next door to grab a fire extinguisher to douse the flames.

Their actions also alerted an upstairs tenant to the situation.

“I’m always happy to help anyone that needs it,” Lippolt said. “That’s what you’re supposed to do. When someone asks for help, you give it.”

Brian Conboy, the high school’s principal, was told of the students’ efforts the next day by the Nassau County Police Department and immediately asked the two to join the school’s Safety Committee.

“To be able to think clearly in an emergency situation, not everyone can do that,” Conboy said. “The decisions that these fine young men had to make could have saved lives and somebody’s home.”

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