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
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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
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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
PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL
Michael A. Decker
CHIEF CLERK OF THE COUNCIL
Councilmembers Kenney, Squilla and O’Neill
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.