Fightfighters put themselves in harm’s way to save people’s lives time and time again. However, this firefighter pushed on through smoke and flames to save a man, even when he was on fire himself.
Firefighter Peter Demontreux, 32, was battling a fire in a Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstone and went inside to find a man who was trapped. Demontreux was a member of Ladder 132 at the time of the August 2010 fire.
He located the man through the smoke at the back of the home. The fire was all around them, but he pulled the man out through the flames to get him to safety.
Demontreux said, “We were on fire. I could feel the burns. I could feel my face burning.” He made it to a window at the front of the third-story apartment and tossed fire victim Clyde Mantany, 51, out and onto the ladder outside.
He quickly followed. The firefighters on the ground hosed down both of the men. Half of Mantany’s body was burned.
While Demontreux was wearing a flame-resistant bunker coat, a seam had popped, and his face and back were burned. The flames had an estimated temperature of 1,000 degrees.
Demontreux was one of 18 firefighters who were honored at a White House ceremony for their bravery, receiving the Medal of Valor from then-Vice President Joe Biden. Attorney General Eric Holder told the crowd about the heroic save, saying he “caught fire-caught fire!”
Demontreaux told the Daily News it was “humbling” to be receiving the award. “I’m very grateful. It’s a really big deal,” he said. “I’m grateful for the award, and I’m grateful my family will be there when I receive it.”
His wife Gina and four children, ranging from 7 to 2, were all there at the ceremony. He had joined the department in 2002, following in his brother’s footsteps, who joined the FDNY four years before.
Lt. Louis Demontreux, Engine 154, said they “couldn’t be more proud.” Louis Demontreaux said, “He’s unselfish, and he’s more of a team player. And he doesn’t really like the attention, actually.”
The Medal of Valor was not the only award he received for his actions. He was given the 2011 James Gordon Bennet Medal, the 2012 Dr. Harry M. Archer Medal, and was named the Daily News’ Hero of the Month for December 2010.