Heroes: Paterson Firefighters Rescue Dad, Daughter, 3, From Burning Building

The flames drew closer as a Paterson father held his 3-year-old daughter over the railing of a third-floor fire escape Sunday morning. Then saviors arrived.

Robert Santore (left) and Brian Hirschmanner

Robert Santore (left) and Brian Hirschmanner


Firefighters Robert Santore and Brian Hirschmanner told the dad to hold tight, then scaled the fire escape and rescued both.

Father and daughter reportedly were doing fine after an ambulance took them to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center during the three-alarm blaze in their three-story brick walkup on Fair Street.

Two other civilians were taken to the hospital for treatment of injuries that weren’t considered life-threatening, authorities said.

A firefighter was treated at the scene for minor injuries, they said.

Firefighters also rescued a dog and cat whose now-homeless owners said couldn’t care for them anymore.

The Red Cross provided temporary food, clothing and lodging for eight families – 18 people in all, city Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale said.


ANYONE who has photos of the fire, please email:, or or text: (201) 943-2794. Or message: Full credit will be given, of course.


Flames were shooting out second-floor windows, extending to the third floor, when firefighters arrived around 10 a.m., Speziale said.

They fanned out, with Santore and Hirschmanner heading toward the back, where they spotted the man holding his daughter over the railing, prepared to drop her to their colleagues below, the director said.

The pair “calmed the father down and prevented him from dropping his daughter,” he said. “They then quickly ascended the fire escape and rescued them.”

Santore, who’s been with the department for 10 years, and Hirschmanner, who’s been with it for seven, brought the toddler down first. Then they got her dad.

The fire was declared under control at 11:37 a.m., Speziale said.

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