BOSTON (CBS) – A Boston firefighter suffered serious burns when he fell through a floor fighting an overnight fire in Jamaica Plain.
Heavy fire broke out in the single-family home on Pond Circle and quickly spread to the second floor. Lt. Ryan McGovern was the first firefighter to head inside the building with Engine 28, using a thermal imaging device as he made his way around.
“Almost in slow motion I felt the floor crack, crack and give way. I ended up going half way into this hole,” McGovern said.
He crashed through, almost to the basement, but caught his fall with severe burns to his hand and leg.
“I gotta call for help, I need to get somebody to my location because I cannot help myself,” he radioed after his fall.
“Fire alarm is calling engine 28 officer,” the dispatcher responded to the mayday call.
But she couldn’t hear his response, leaving him to hit the emergency signal button that would alert everyone to his position.
The minutes were ticking.
“It’s a feeling of being very alone, like helplessness, hopelessness. But you know your brothers are coming,” he said.
Knowing there was trouble, the incident commander sending out an order to get out of the building.
“All officers account for every member in your company and report to the front of the building except for the companies involved in the rear,” he said in a radio transmission.
Lt. McGovern also sent an audio alarm to help other firefighters locate him, and was thinking of even more than his training.
“I was thinking about my family. There’s no way in hell I’m going to end in a hole in the floor,” he said.
By the time a rescue team had reached McGovern, he had pulled himself up. But the dangers of the building were clear.
Two people live in the home, they were not home when the fire broke out. But Lt. McGovern says given that it was 1 a.m., they assumed there could be occupants inside.
He was treated and released from the hospital for second and third degree burns. He says they were some of the most anxious moments of his nine year career with the department, but the injuries won’t stop him from one thing. “Thankfully I’m a righty, I can eat turkey. Although I’m not sure how effective I’ll be with cutting,” he quipped about the bandage on his left hand.
Boston Fire estimates damage at $650,000. The cause of the fire is under investigation.