Firefighter critical after daring rescue

February 10, 2009 1:43:43 PM PST
A Trenton, New Jersey firefighter was rushed to the hospital after a daring rescue.He collapsed after pulling a person from a burning home in the 100 block of Washington Street late Monday night.

Action News has learned the name of the firefighter is 43-year-old Manny Rivera, a veteran of the department who was working an overtime shift at a different firehouse than he usually works when he collapsed after suffering a heart attack.

Rivera is a married father of five.

He was brought to St. Francis Medical Center where he is in critical condition.

Manny Rivera Jr., the firefighter's son, didn't want to talk on camera but said this afternoon that his dad is still on a respirator and the family has been unable to talk to him.

Manny Rivera has been fighting fires in Trenton for nearly 14 years.

The Monday night fire happened at 112 Washington Street. Rivera had just pulled a fire victim, who was hanging out of a window, down a ladder to safety.

"When he reached the ground he was standing there and he passed the victim on to our local EMS service, and at that point he collapsed," said Trenton Fire Department Director Richard Laird.

"Those guys got him into the ambulance, which was down the road, in less than a minute. I mean, they were flying down," said neighbor Bill Riether. "I didn't know that it was a firefighter."

Sources say Rivera had coded, but was revived.

"Right now, they say the condition is really bad, and we feel really bad about that," said Rivera's brother Daniel Fallas.

"It's a shame. I don't want to see anybody get hurt, especially a firefighter" said neighbor Sal Balardo.

"Firefighting is an inherently dangerous occupation, and we have an aggressive group of firefighters here that risk their lives constantly," Laird said. "Every once in a while something like this comes to the forefront and you really realize how dangerous this job is."

Two occupants of the burning home were hurt, but not seriously injured.

The cause of the fire has been ruled accidental.

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