BAYONNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Two of Bayonne’s finest made an acrobatic escape from a burning building last week.
Both firefighters had to pull a risky move in order to make it out alive.
It’s a move Captain Tim Ballance has practiced under controlled conditions and secured by a harness, but on Saturday night, as a 2-alarm fire consumed the interior of a house, the 57-year-old had to perform a head first bailout for real.
He crawled onto a ladder, and flipped over like an acrobat. Ballance did it all without a harness or a net. He was 15 feet off the ground with flames right at his back.
“In a real fire, the first time I had to do that,” he told CBS2’s Tony Aiello.
Ballance laughed and said he hopes it’s also the last time.
He can laugh now, but there was nothing funny about the danger inside of the burning home.
The firefighter was faced with zero visibility and no chance to climb out normally.
“There was not time to try and do that. Just had to come out head first, that was the way to do it,” he said.
It wasn’t captured on camera, but Captain Kevin Fitzhenry had to exit using the same risky maneuver.
“You gotta get out. You have to get out. That’s the only way to get out, that’s what we did,” he said.
“It’s an amazing tribute to the talent and the training of all of our firefighters, and that’s one small example of the teamwork that was involved in that rescue,” Bayonne Fire Chief Keith Weaver added.
A minute before the acrobatic move the two captains had rescued a resident trapped inside.
It was all in a day’s work for Bayonne’s bravest.