Dave Martinez was driving in the Bronx when his partner, Brad English, noticed thick, black smoke coming from a building a few blocks away. It was around 12:45 p.m. on December 21, 2010 and the two ASPCA officers were on their way to a job when they suddenly changed course and headed towards the burning apartment building on Grand Concourse Avenue, about a mile from Yankee Stadium.
An explosion of flames seemed to engulf the structure and spew fire out of the windows on the top floors as the officers pulled up to the scene. Martinez called 911, identified himself as a retired MOS (Member of the Service-NYPD), and requested fire apparatus and EMS “forthwith.”… . “I’ve got to get in the building. I’ve got to get people out!” He said, hung up the phone, and ran into the building to begin the evacuation.
Meanwhile, a man with an infant ran up to the car where Brad English was manning the radio. At first, he thought the baby was dead. He’d suffered smoke inhalation and his color was off. Then he saw that the infant was moving his arms. English put the father and his baby in the vehicle to help keep them warm until EMS arrived with the equipment to administer aid. English called Martinez on the radio to alert him as to what was going on but the reception was bad inside the building and he didn’t hear.
“So now I’m in the building,” Martinez explained, “ I ran in and evacuated everyone I could from the first to the fourth floor. On the fourth floor, I ran into this civilian, a young guy about 20 years old, and I told him I needed his help. We had to get the people out and I asked him if he would continue to evacuate the floors behind me as I ran upstairs. He said o.k. He worked on [two floors] while I ran up to the top. There, I found a woman in the hallway. She was in shock and crying. I told her, ‘We gotta go. I’ve gotta get you out of here!’ She told me her husband was still in the apartment and she couldn’t leave. When I opened the door to her apartment, I was smothered in smoke and heat and had to back up and get out. I told her I couldn’t make it and that we had to leave. ‘We gotta go. Either we go or we die,” I said. Her friend and another woman came out and helped me get the woman downstairs. While I’m walking down to the first floor, I meet the firefighters climbing up and told them about the man on the seventh floor. “
Less than a minute later, Martinez was outside and next to his car. That’s when he saw English with the father and baby inside. English explained that he’d talked to the guys in the EMS truck that was now sitting a few yards away. “I got an infant in a vehicle with possible smoke inhalation. Can you come and take a look at the baby?” English had told EMS. Just as he was finishing the last few words of the sentence, an EMS supervisor shouted to his men to, “Meet me on the other side .” English watched them gun the engine and drive across the street.
Martinez then ran up to the ambulance just as the EMS personnel were putting on their turnout gear. “It was one of the most frustrating things,” he explained. “They wouldn’t even look at the baby. I just couldn’t believe what was going on. Maybe they didn’t understand what me and Brad were trying to tell them.”
Then Martinez saw a second ambulance pulling up and he and English flagged it down. A woman EMS worker and her Hispanic partner slammed on the breaks, ran out, provided first aid to the baby, and then loaded him and his father into the bus to take them to the hospital.
Relieved, Martinez looked around for the NYPD duty captain to give him a report but there wasn’t a captain there. Then he saw a young sergeant. The sergeant explained that he was responsible for writing up the “49” police incident report. Martinez said he was a retired MOS and now an animal cop who worked for the ASPCA. Then he explained the details of what had transpired and asked the sergeant to include him and his partner in the report as they had to account for their time to their boss.
When Martinez got a copy of the 49 police incident report from a friend the next day, neither he nor his partner’s actions were mentioned.
140-150 firefighters were called out to battle the fire that day. Only six civilians suffered minor injuries. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5k-qfQoKcGw
If it weren’t for the actions of retired NYPD Intelligence Detective and former Emergency Service cop , Dave Martinez and retired NYPD narcotics detective Brad English, there would have been more injuries and possibly deaths. Meanwhile, Martinez and English were both happy to learn that the man who they’d thought was trapped on the top floor had managed to get out of the apartment by way of the fire escape.
Dave Martinez (alias Keith Ryan in Seven Shots) is one of the six Emergency Service officers who was on the entry team that aborted New York City’s first suicide bombing in 1997. Those of you who have read Seven Shots will recognize him as one of the two officers who fired his weapon, critically wounding both suspects.
Brad English is the brother of retired Emergency Service sergeant, John English, who was also on the entry team and one of the main “characters” in the book. Brad English has his own proud history in the NYPD that my book doesn’t touch upon.