Even among the 70 firefighters and medics decorated at the FDNY’s annual Medal Day ceremony, Firefighter Abraham G. Miller of Ladder Company 23 stood out for his rescue of a trapped child.
He descended, via rope, from a six-story building’s roof in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood and pulled her out through a window, and smoke and flames, to safety.
On Wednesday, Miller was awarded the FDNY’s highest honor, for valor — the Chief of Department Peter J. Ganci Jr. Medal, named for the highest-ranking uniformed firefighter to die in the 9/11/2001 terror attacks.
"It’s just gratifying, very rewarding, that we were able to rescue them, and they could live their life," Miller recalled after the ceremony, recounting the operation to save those inside the burning building last year.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro and other department brass honored Miller and the 79 others at the department’s Medal Day ceremony, where the personnel’s family and peers cheered, hooted and applauded as the summary of what each person did to merit decoration was read out.
About a third of the honorees live on Long Island.
De Blasio singled out Miller, and another firefighter who lowered the rope, Jairo Sosa, Ladder Company 34’s roof firefighter.
"A six-story building on fire. A child dangling from a window. Engulfed in flames, all around a child. A child who has only seconds to be saved, or that young life will be gone forever, and who arrives on the scene? Firefighter Abraham G. Miller … and Firefighter Jairo Sosa," de Blasio said.
In opening remarks, Nigro noted that the department has hosted two Medal Day ceremonies in 2021 — one in mid-April, postponed from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic; and Wednesday's ceremony, held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens.
"Heroically, you advance forward through intense heat and smoke. You respond to each call that comes your way and provide outstanding medical care. No matter the dangers to yourself, you always go to help," Nigro said.
He spoke before each honoree was called to the stage to be saluted by the FDNY’s top uniformed member, Acting Chief of Department Thomas J. Richardson, receive the medal, and pose with de Blasio, Richardson and Nigro.
"Our members never back down when they find themselves in a life-or-death situation for a New Yorker," Nigro said, "a child trapped by a fire, an unconscious occupant overcome by smoke or carbon monoxide, an individual in desperate need of medical care."