ORANGE, NJ — The Burn Center at Saint Barnabas Medical Center presented members of the Orange Fire Department with a Valor Award during the 28th annual Valor Awards on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at Mayfair Farms in West Orange.
Capt. Matthew Kohaut and Firefighters James Antoine and Leonard Stewart were honored for their involvement in a structure fire with heavy smoke at a three-story occupied garden apartment last winter. On arrival, the Orange Fire Department noted conditions rapidly deteriorating, warranting a call for mutual aid. With reports of people trapped on the second and third floors, Kohaut and Stewart noted a woman hanging out of a window, clutching her week-old baby.
Kohaut and Stewart immediately cut through a barricading fence and secured a 24-foot ladder to the third floor. Keeping in constant communication to help calm the mother, Kohaut reached for the baby, handing the infant to Stewart, who turned the child over to emergency medical personnel. Together, the two firefighters then safely brought the distraught mother down the ladder, where she was reunited with her child.
Simultaneously, Antoine raised a second ladder to calm and rescue two trapped adults from another third-story window. Several citizens and one firefighter did need to be transported to a local hospital for non-life threatening injuries, but all safely recovered.