Firefighters Fought Off, Rescued Needle-Waving Suicide

Allan Appel PhotThe scene: the snowy night of January 9, 2009. The men of Engine Six on Dixwell Avenue are on their way to an “water emergency” at the Duncan Hotel. They find an out-of-control man weighing over 200 pounds who has ripped up a claw-foot bathtub to barricade the sixth-floor door.

By the time they break through, the man has dashed out the window making for the fire escape. He doesn’t know it is 50 feet away. A suicide who changed his mind, he is clinging to the sill by two hands.

Yet he is somehow also stabbing with a hypodermic at the three firemen trying to save him.

He’s too heavy. Yet the firefighters won’t let go. They call for back-up.

That’s when Charles “Chick” Kranyak arrived. The four firefighters finally pulled the subject in to safety, and eventual arrest.

That story of extraordinary bravery in the course of doing their job was recalled Wednesday night as Kranyak, along with firefighters Corey Bellamy, Justin McCarthy, and Lt. Jim Blakeslee (now retired), were acknowledged and saluted at the Olde School Saloon and Bistro. The ceremony that drew 50 fellow firefighters, their families and admirers.

The event was sponsored by the Greater New Haven Exchange Club, a civic organization focused on the prevention of child abuse.

Its century-old chapter is making a comeback in New Haven, according to its the club’s secretary, Jack Mushin.

This is the second year the Exchange Club has honored first responders, both police and firefighters, who perform extraordinary acts of service that are not acknowledged at the time.

That’s why the 2009 rescue was selected, according to New Haven Firefighters Local 825 Secretary/Treasurer Lt. Frank Ricci, who helped organize the event.

“When you go to a fire, you prepare yourself. These guys went to a water emergency, and in a tenth of a second it changed to a guy going out the window, and then he picked up a needle, and they didn’t let go even when he stabbed. It exemplifies what the department does, ” said Ricci.

Because of the needle-stabbing, all four firefighters underwent AIDS testing subsequent to the rescue.

The firefighters didn’t know what became of the man they rescued, although McCarthy said he did go to bat for the man yet again.

“I went to court on his behalf. Sure give him a break,” he remembered testifying about the mental condition of the man he had helped rescue and who stabbed at him with a needle.

Recalling the events of three years past, as they sipped wine and waited for dinner, to be followed by speeches and accolades, Bellamy said, “I don’t even think about it. We did it. It’s the job.”

Kranyak added, “A lot of this falls through. It’s everyday.”

Logan Kranyak, who is 6 years old, wants to be a firefighter like his dad. His back-up careers: baseball or football player. During dinner and speeches he could be seen touching the badge on the arm of his father’s uniform.

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