Firefighter Reunited With Woman He Rescued From Burning Building Decades Ago

Most first responders do not get to meet the people they saved or find out what became of them after they parted ways. However, while most people were hunkering down during the COVID-19 pandemic, one Virginia woman got an opportunity to meet the man who saved her and her mother.

Close Call

In 1983, FDNY Firefighter Eugene Pugliese was checking on a broken pipe when a man approached him and told him there was a fire over on 64 Wooster Street. The fire had broken out on the sixth floor of the building.

Pugliese said, "I didn't even have my gear on, just a helmet and an ax." However he made his way to the building. There was heavy smoke when he got there, inside was a woman.

"She was yelling ‘my baby, my baby!’ I carried her into another room and proceeded into the room that was on fire. I found Deirdre and I was so glad. I crawled in on my belly and didn’t have any equipment, I was lucky to have found her."

FDNY Firefighter Eugene Pugliese

After a couple rescue breaths, Deirdre began to cry.

Search For Her Rescuer

Taylor grew up to be an ER nurse after serving as a Captain and a helicopter pilot in the Army. The Virginia resident volunteered to go to New York City. Helping the overrun hospital wasn't her only mission.

She brought with her a newspaper detailing her and her mother's rescue. NYU Langone Hospital celebrated health care workers one night, and Taylor approached a firefighter to see if he could help find Pugliese.

The firefighter was able to help. She spoke to Pugliese over the phone and arranged to meet at his old station, Ladder 20.

"The name of the Firefighter that rescued me was always with me. I had always wanted to track down the Firefighter who saved me, so I could say thank you."

Deirdre Taylor

Pugliese was thrilled to see Taylor. "She turned out to be a wonderful young woman. When I heard she was here, I was on cloud nine. I cried all day."

A Special Moment

As important as it was for Taylor to find Pugliese, it was equally special for him to be able to physically see how her life turned out after he saved her life as a baby.

Sharing that moment likely meant more to him than any medal or award.

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