Tag Archives: Fran Cheney

An Honor for a Brave Act

It took the City Council of Philadelphia to do what the Fire Administration should have done in July.  On September 20th the City Council of Philadelphia proclaimed Fran Cheney and in an additional comment the entire city fire department heroes.

It is tragic, though, that the ineffectual leadership of the department could not see its way clear to give Fran Cheney a medal for the heroic act he performed.  In case you are not up to speed on the story.  Cheney and three other firefighters had a building fall on them.  Cheney and another firefighter were pulled from the rubble alive.  Two good men lost their lives in that warehouse fire.  To most people having a building fall on you might make you a bit gun-shy.  But not the vast majority of the Philadelphia Fire Department.  Just months later Engine 61 with Firefighter Cheney on board responded to a house fire.  Cheney and the team were informed that there were still people inside.   With no ladder on location yet Cheney ran into the building and up the steps to find a distraught and disoriented woman in a bedroom.  At this point we need to be clear about something.  Firefighters are taught to never give up their air supply.  But in the real world and in the face of a victim who might make it even harder to help due to panic, Cheney made a quick decision.  Just one flight of steps and the door.  He removed his mask and placed it on the woman and walked her out.  In the process Cheney did suffer from some effects of smoke in inhalation and was treated at a local hospital overnight.

As many of the PFD family know what happened in that emergency room was nothing short of a travesty.  A senior official of the department visited with the injured firefighter.  It has been customary for the fire commissioner to visit injured members and I knew of many who never failed at that.  But it seems that Fran Cheney wasn’t worth the commissioners time.  He sent his second to check on Cheney.  You would expect a slap on the back and great job, but that never happened.  What did was that the fire official told Cheney what he did was stupid.

To this day there has been no official recognition from the Philadelphia Fire Department of that July 4th event.  I am sure though they felt the heat from the citizens as Cheney was not transferred like other members who have been injured.  This being the form of punishment for going above and beyond that Lloyd Ayers and his team like to dole out.  So Cheney returned to his station and back to his job.

The woman he saved was a young mother and she wanted to personally thank the Firefighter who saved her and with news cameras rolling she came to the Firehouse and Castor and Kensington Avenues.  As she thanked Cheney he produced an envelope and gave it to the woman.  He told her she needed it more than  him.  Inside the envelope was his overtime payment for the day he saved her.  The mark of a good man is compassion, Cheney in that one moment showed he is a good man and the right guy to honor as the City Council of Philadelphia did on September 20th, 2012.  Here is the citation from Council


City of Philadelphia
– 1 –
Council of the City of Philadelphia
Office of the Chief Clerk
Room 402, City Hall
(Resolution No. 120662)
Honoring the extraordinary, heroic efforts of Firefighter Francis Cheney of the Philadelphia Fire Department’s Ladder 10.
WHEREAS, In the morning hours of July 4, the crew of Engine 61 responded to a fire alarm at a burning rowhome in the neighborhood of Lawncrest. Firefighter Cheney entered the smoke-filled home and found a woman trapped on the second floor. When it was evident she was in distress, he ripped off his air mask and gave it to her before carrying her outside to safety. Cheney then spent the night at Temple University Hospital in order to receive treatment for smoke inhalation. He later donated his overtime pay to help the woman and her family rebuild their lives; and
WHEREAS, This heroic episode is not an isolated incident, but comes less than three months after Firefighter Cheney was injured in the five-alarm fire on April 9 at an abandoned warehouse in Kensington. Cheney was inspecting the furniture building adjacent to the warehouse when the wall and roof began to fall. He was buried in the rubble but managed to dig himself out. Firefighter Patrick Nally from Ladder 16, who was buried up to his waist, was also pulled from the rubble. Lt. Robert Neary and Firefighter David Sweeney, also from Ladder 10, did not survive the incident; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, That Firefighter Francis Cheney is hereby recognized and honored for his extraordinary, heroic efforts as a member of the Philadelphia Fire Department’s Ladder 10. With this resolution we also honor all our brave firefighters. This legislative body wants to show its appreciation to them during these difficult days of injury and loss.
FURTHER RESOLVED, That an Engrossed copy of this resolution be presented to Firefighter Francis Cheney as evidence of the sincere sentiments of this legislative body.
City of Philadelphia
RESOLUTION NO. 120662 continued
City of Philadelphia
– 2 –
CERTIFICATION: This is a true and correct copy of the original Resolution, Adopted by the Council of the City of Philadelphia on the thirteenth of September, 2012.
Darrell L. Clarke
Michael A. Decker
Introduced by:
Councilmembers Kenney, Squilla and O’Neill
Sponsored by:
Councilmembers Kenney, Squilla, O’Neill, Oh, Johnson, Quiñones Sánchez, Goode, Greenlee, O’Brien, Jones, Reynolds Brown, Henon and Tasco

Shame on the Administration presiding at 3rd and Spring Garden and good job to the men and women of the Philadelphia Fire Department who, in the face of a vindictive Commissioner and a Mayor who refuses to adhere to a binding arbitration award, continue to save lives and put out the fires.


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Doing the Right thing!

Faced with a deadly situation Fran Cheney made a snap decision to aid a woman rapidly being overcome by smoke to save her life.  He did so by putting his own life at risk.  We talked about that rescue here.

But the story only gets better or worse, it depends.  The woman who was rescued wanted to thank Fran and both Fox 29 and 6ABC where there with cameras rolling.  It was a great scene.  The woman gushing over her hero and Fran as is his custom just saying you’re welcome and telling the camera he was just doing his job.  Up until that point he was, he was doing what almost every firefighter in the nation would do but there are those like Deputy Commissioner Hargett who feel he did something either wrong or stupid.  What it was a snap decision by a well-trained and motivated professional to save a victim.  The dangers of carbon monoxide are engrained in a firefighters DNA.  We know the risk.  It was a risk Fran Cheney felt he had to take.

For all you nay sayers out there and to Deputy Commissioner Hargett and Commissioner Ayers here is one of your predecessors comments on the tactic employed by Firefighter Cheney.

“Buddy Breathing” is a standard part of any firefighter’s inventory just like an axe or a ladder.  It’s a generally accepted firefighting tool used anywhere in the world.  To even suggest it was improper is absolutely insane.  That young lady would have died up there on the second floor if it hadn’t of been for Fran Cheney.  In times like that “proper procedures” is purely academic, and instinct takes over.  Thank God Cheney had the instincts he inherited from his Father.  If I was the Boss I would have had Cheney in my office the next morning and awarded him the Department’s Heroism Award on the spot.  Investigation – Don’t be ridiculous!!!

William C. Richmond

That is leadership.

What I will show you is an NFPA statement on Buddy Breathing.  Did you know that neither the NFPA or NIOSH endorse the quick connect buddy breathing devices?  Then they add this to the standard.

The practice of passing the SCBA facepiece back and forth between two users is considered unsafe because highly toxic air contaminants can enter the facepiece during the exchange of the facepiece.

One wonders if the NFPA ever heard of positive pressure self-contained breathing apparatus. Which is now a national standard and when you watch the video Fran mentions that effect when he spoke about passing the mask to the victim.   In the unreal world of government recommendations the victim dying is acceptable.  In the real world of fire and smoke, real firefighters don’t let innocent people die.  They do whatever they can to save them, that is important, especially to the victims.  Listen to this one after she meets her hero.

Oh did I mention that Fran gave his pay for that night (he was working overtime) to the fire victim saying she needed it more than him.

You can watch the reunion here: Hero Firefighter Donates OT To Woman He Rescued.

Once again, and this time I am including the entire company due to a good decision by the Lieutenant in charge of the company, who told Fran to go get the victim. Great job folks and continue to help the citizens of Philadelphia.

So will it be discipline or a medal?  You know what I think.  Stick a pin on his chest even if he doesn’t want it.

I do have a question for my PFD friends.  How many Heroism awards have been given out since 2006?  I really want to know.


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