MIDDLETOWN, NJ – At 07:50 am Friday, January 29, 2021 the Middletown Township Fire Department was dispatched to 50 Warren Place for a reported dryer fire. The East Keansburg and Port Monmouth Fire Companies were initially dispatched.
Middletown Fire Department 1st Assistant Chief John Waltz was the first arriving officer on scene and upon arrival witnessed off duty Union Beach Police Detective & Middletown Township Firefighter Matt Deickmann of Belford Engine; without the assistance of a charged hose line, rescue an elderly woman, as they both emerged from heavy black smoke staggering through an open garage door and onto the driveway. As Emergency Medical Crews quickly arrived on scene the homeowner, June Ryan, was treated for smoke inhalation.
The first arriving fire apparatus was Engine 150 from East Keansburg. Chief Waltz ordered two attack hand lines placed into operation; with the first to enter into the garage where visible flames could be seen rolling across the ceiling. The second line was ordered to the front door of the Bi-level home, where fire crews had to force entry to the front door. With fire extending up and into the second-floor bedrooms and kitchen area, Waltz stated later his concern was to get water on the fire as quickly as possible. The second arriving fire apparatus was Ladder Quint 160 from Port Monmouth. Ladder 160 laid approximately 300’ feet of 5” inch supply hose from the nearest hydrant and connected same into Engine 150 in order to maintain a continuous water supply to the attack hose line crews working vigorously within the home.
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At this point in the fire, Chief of the Department John Friedmann arrived on scene; requested an additional Ladder from Brevent Park Fire Company to respond for additional equipment and manpower, as he simultaneously assumed command of the fire scene.
Deickmann when interviewed; stated that he had been returning home from running some errands, when he heard the fire call dispatched. Upon his arrival he observed heavy dark smoke coming out from an open garage door and from the rear corner of the Bi-Level residential structure. Deickmann stated, he noticed a wheelchair in the driveway as he exited his vehicle and without a second thought for his own safety, crouched down under the smoke and entered the garage. He saw visible flames coming from the deepest part of the garage. The flames were coming from what was later to be known, as the laundry/utility room. As he called out, he could hear a woman’s voice on the other side of a door, just offset from where the fire was burning. Passing the under the flames he opened the door and found the elderly female homeowner partially visible from the waist down, as her upper body was concealed by heavy black smoke.
Deickmann stated, he asked Ms. Ryan if she would walk out with him, but she said that she could not without her walker. As conditions quickly deteriorated, Deickmann found the walker, grabbed the woman and began moving toward the stairs leading up and out to safety. Unfortunately, the stairs of the Bi-Level home leading out to safety via the front, were not an option, due to Ms. Ryan’s preexisting mobility condition. So Deickmann had to recue Ms. Ryan out through the smoke and flame filled garage for which he had come. Without hesitation, and using his own body to block the victim from the heat and flames, Detective Deickmann expediently removed the victim from the structure as fast as he could, lead her to safety on the driveway and delivered her to emergency medical personnel as they arrived on scene.
Chief Friedmann; in recognizing Detective Deickmann’s act of heroism and genuine human kindness toward another stated; he will be notifying the Middletown Township governing body and the members of the Middletown Fire Department of this remarkable achievement under such harsh conditions in the hope Detective Deickmann be publicly recognized for his actions on this day.
The structure sustained fire damage to a laundry utility room, the adjoining family room, and garage on the ground floor. As did the two bedrooms and the kitchen on the floor above, with smoke damage throughout.
No firefighter injuries were reported while operating on scene.
All units operated safely under the supervision of Middletown Township Fire Department Chief John Friedmann.
Twenty-seven (27) firefighters responded to the scene from four (4) Middletown Township Fire Companies in addition to the Safety and Air Units. The companies who responded are as follows: East Keansburg, Port Monmouth, Community and Brevent Park.
The origin and cause of this fire is under investigation by the Middletown Fire Marshal’s Office.