Rooftop Rescue

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael Daly

The courage of Swift Water Team 6.

The miracle of the storm came just as Hurricane Sandy reached her furious peak and 70mph winds brought the smell of smoke to a half dozen firefighters who chanced to be two blocks away with a Zodiac boat on their rig. The firefighters of Swift Water Team 6--one of 30 such teams fielded by the New York Fire Department during the storm--saw 16 people, including several children, trapped on a roof, screaming as flames shot over their heads. "They were either going to burn to death or drown," says team commander Lt. Bob "Rocco" LaRocco.

The team sped to the building and tied their boat to a utility pole that threatened to topple in the tempest. "If that wire went into the water, we were all dead," LaRocco says. Firefighter Tommy Lee climbed onto the roof while the other firefighters struggled through chest-high water to the building next door.

Now the challenge would be climbing across the narrow alleyway that separated the two buildings. …