FDNY uses dangerous rope rescue to save three people from burning building

NEW YORK, NY – The New York Fire Department (FDNY) executed an extraordinary rope-rescue operation on Friday, saving three individuals from a burning apartment building in Harlem. The blaze resulted in one fatality and injured 17 others.

Dramatic footage released by the FDNY depicts a firefighter, tethered by a rope, descending the side of the building with a rescued resident in his arms while smoke billows around them. The daring rescue operation was conducted atop the six-story building at 2 St. Nicholas Place. One firefighter would secure one end of the rope while another descended to a window to rescue a trapped resident.

FDNY Chief of Operations, John Hodgens, explained the procedure at a press conference alongside his team and New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “A member attaches to the rope, then another member descends the side of the building to the window to rescue the trapped individual,” Hodgens said. He noted that the operation was repeated three times during this fire, a feat he described as “very heroic.”

The fire, which Hodgens called “very challenging,” broke out around 2:15 p.m. His team arrived on the scene within three and a half minutes of the 911 call. After combating the flames, they discovered three unconscious victims in the upper hallways. Three additional residents were found at a window, screaming for help, unable to escape due to smoke and flames blocking the hallways and stairways.

Firefighter Jason Lopez, who was part of the rescue operation, said his team practices the drill twice a week. “We train for the real thing so when it happens, we know what we’re doing,” Lopez said. He expressed his trust for his rooftop colleague who was securing the rope during the operation.

Witnesses reported seeing one person jump from the burning building, but it remains unclear if this was the individual who died. The FDNY is still investigating the cause of the fire. However, local reports suggest e-bikes and their batteries, which have been linked to a surge in city fires in recent years, were found at the scene.