New York City Firefighter to Receive Top U.S. Valor Award

A New York City firefighter who pulled a victim to safety through a burning building even as temperatures reached in excess of 1,000 degrees is among the 18 people who will be awarded the nation’s highest award for valor for public safety officers.

Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder today in Washington will present Peter Demontreux, a New York city firefighter, and 17 other emergency services officers, law enforcement officers and firefighters with the Medal of Valor. The award is presented to public safety officers who have “exhibited exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life,” according to the Justice Department’s website.

Four individuals killed in the line of duty are among the recipients of the award, which, including today’s honorees, has been given 78 times since its creation in 2001.

Demontreux, in what the White House citation called “one of the most remarkable rescues ever witnessed,” pulled an individual through the burning third-floor of a brownstone, continuing the rescue even as the floor burst into flames and he caught on fire.

“Firefighter Demontreux, now on fire, made the split second decision that he would not leave victim behind,” the White House said. “After reaching the window, Firefighter Demontreux insured the victim was safely on the aerial ladder before diving out himself.”

Demontreux was previously honored with the James Gordon Bennett Medal, the highest honor in New York city for a member of the fire service, for his efforts during the August 2010 rescue.

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