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FDNY Lieutenant Receives Department’s Highest Honor For Heroics During Sandy

7,000 FDNY Members Get New Sandy Campaign Service Ribbon
A home that was destroyed during Superstorm Sandy is viewed along the beach in Bell Harbor, Queens on April 29, 2013. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A home that was destroyed during Superstorm Sandy is viewed along the beach in Bell Harbor, Queens on April 29, 2013. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Superstorm Sandy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The FDNY is honoring the men and women of the department who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, including 30 Superstorm Sandy responders.

Lt. Thomas Woods of Ladder 154 was awarded the FDNY’s highest honor — the James Gordon Bennett Medal — at the annual Medal Day ceremony on Wednesday.

The 50-year-old firefighter was off-duty when he rescued 25 people from a rising storm surge and rapidly moving fire in Belle Harbor the night Superstorm Sandy hit the city.

“Thomas Woods patiently, skillfully and bravely led more than 25 of his neighbors to higher and safer ground,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Woods was modest about what he did.

“A lot of people did a lot of outstanding things during the storm,” he said. “The storm came up, the fires came and everybody worked together to do what we had to do to get the people safely off the street and evacuated.”

More than 7,000 FDNY employees, both uniformed and civilian, who worked during the storm also received a new Sandy Campaign Service Ribbon.

It is the first service ribbon created since the department’s response to Hurricane Katrina, when more than 650 FDNY members were honored for their work.

Three fire companies were also awarded medals for their work during the storm.

“Each year at this time, we pay tribute to the bravest of our Bravest and honor their exceptional acts of valor, exemplifying the finest traditions of the FDNY,” said Bloomberg. “This year, we take particular note of firefighters and emergency medical services personnel who put themselves in harm’s way to save others during the worst storm in our city’s recorded history: Hurricane Sandy.”

“No one day in the past year better demonstrated how important the department is to the people of New York than on October 29, 2012 when Hurricane Sandy struck the city like no storm ever has before,” said Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano. “Every working FDNY member, and many off-duty members, was fully engaged in response to the unprecedented storm, demonstrating again and again why they are rightly called the Bravest.”

The FDNY also honored EMTs Marilyn Arroyo and Jimmy Guailacela of Station 46, who were awarded the highest EMS honor for rescuing three seniors  trapped in a car during a flash flood last August in Queens.

A total of 45 medals were awarded to firefighters, EMTs, paramedics and fire marshals for their courageous acts throughout the city in 2012.

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