A New York City firefighter is among 18 honored with the Medal of Valor by Vice President Joe Biden.
Eighteen police officers, firefighters and public safety officers received the nation's highest honor for public safety officers, which recognizes those who risk their own safety to save or protect others.
FDNY Firefighter Peter Demontreux received the honor for his efforts responding to a fire on August 30, 2010.
His unit responded to a fire in a 4 story brownstone. On arrival they encountered heavy fire at the front door and up the stairway to the third floor preventing entry to the home, but instead of waiting for a hoseline, Demontreux climbed an aerial ladder to a third floor window.
One person was waiting there to be rescued, but he told Demontreux that his friend was still trapped inside the burning apartment.
After assisting the civilian onto the ladder, Demontreux immediately entered the apartment to conduct a search. He found the victim deep within the apartment.
In the ensuing minutes, the entire third floor suddenly exploded into flames setting both rescuer and victim ablaze.
According to the on-scene Battalion Chief's report, Demontreux, now on fire, made the split second decision that he would not leave victim behind.
After reaching the window, he insured the victim was safely on the aerial ladder before diving out himself. Both men were extinguished by a hoseline and though badly burned, both survived.
Demontreux's protective equipment was subsequently tested and found to have been subjected to temperatures in excess of 1,000 degrees.
Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder presented the medals at an emotional ceremony attended by family members and fellow officers.
Four of the recipients died in the line of duty. Their spouses and colleagues accepted the awards on their behalf.
Biden says public safety officers are the spine of the nation. He says it's sad it takes an extraordinary act for the public to recognize their sacrifices and courage.