It was a firefighter’s worst nightmare — blinding black smoke, a wall of fire and a toddler trapped in the inferno. Firefighter Desmond Walsh, 32, temporarily assigned to the crew of Engine Co. 250, was among the first at the Brooklyn scene last Dec. 16 where a lit menorah had set a Borough Park home ablaze.Walsh, wearing his air pack, went inside determined to save 3-year-old Itta Friedman.
“I could hear her cries. They were very faint,” he said. “I was yelling for her to make noise until she was found.”
Itta was in a back room, and Walsh crawled along the perimeter of the walls through the flames in the living room to reach her.
Desmond Walsh When he scooped the child into his arms, she was unconscious, barely breathing and badly burned. He knew his only chance to save her was to get her out quickly.
But that required carrying her through a fully engulfed living room without the protection of a hose line that could tamp down the fire and save them both.
Blinded by smoke, he heard the voices of his colleagues. Using the walls to guide himself, Walsh held his arms out like a forklift, holding the child as he crawled to the exit.
Itta was alive, despite suffering second- and third-degree burns over 50 percent of her body. She is still undergoing treatment, but is recovering well.
The FDNY has nominated Walsh for a New York Post Liberty Medal in the Bravest category.
“It feels good. This is what you want to do all the time. I just happened to be in the right place,” said the firefighter, who belongs to Engine Co. 44 on the Upper East Side.
“I think that is where the training comes in, and you think about what you did afterward.”