U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Ex-Chief John Curly (Bellmore Fire Department, New York)

Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor

On November 12, 2012, the Bellmore Fire Department was called to a house fire where a victim was trapped inside. Along with his son, former Chief Curley – who remains a member of the Bellmore Fire Department – heard the call and were first to arrive. A man in the driveway said his elderly mother was trapped in a second-floor bedroom.

With no fire vehicles on the scene, former Chief Curley used a file cabinet topped by an old broken wooden ladder to climb to the bedroom window. He broke the window with his bare hands, which exposed him to the heavy black smoke billowing from the room. Without the protection of a hose line, breathing apparatus, or protective gear, he went inside knowing that he had only a few seconds before it would be engulfed in flames. Once inside, he found the woman lying unconscious.

Former Chief Curley moved the woman to the window, lifted her out onto the wooden ladder, carried her down, and passed her to his waiting son, who gave her medical attention. Former Chief Curley suffered lacerations to his hands and face, and his actions, taken at extreme risk to his own personal safety, resulted in saving the life of the trapped woman.

Date Published: September 8, 2020