Firefighter-Designed Hook Saved FDNY Bravest

Posted: 01-11-2008
Updated: 01-11-2008 03:50:48 PM

Firehouse.Com News

NEW YORK -- When a FDNY firefighter suddenly found himself trapped by a fast-moving blaze last week he threw a hook into a windowsill and climbed out using a special rope.

But it wasn't just an ordinary hook that saved Raymond Pollard, 51, from harm's way.

It was designed by fellow FDNY firefighters Chris Delisio, George Grammas and Jimmy Kelly along with Brad Beall, product engineer with The Crosby Group.

"We knew it would work. We were excited to hear it was used as it was designed -- to save a firefighter," Delisio said. "Incredible...unbelievable. We're all tickled."

What started out as an assignment from their supervisors has wound up much more. The team was awarded a patent for the hook.

"We had no idea this project would end up with our names on a patent," said Delisio, who recently retired from the FDNY.

On a bitter January morning three years ago, intense flames and heat forced six firefighters to jump from the fourth floor of the tenement. Firefighters John Bellew and Curt Meyran were killed.

Following that tragic event that has become known as "Black Sunday," firefighters vowed to work to make sure it didn't happen again.

When firefighters started looking around for an anchor or something similar, they soon realized there was nothing out there that met their needs.

"We needed something that would be small enough to anchor around a windowsill, a radiator or banister. But, it had to be strong," Delisio said.

That's when the firefighters called on The Crosby Group for their expertise. "They originally thought we were crazy. But, they were on board 100 percent."

Beall, the product engineer, said things came together faster than he imagined. He came up with a prototype, and it was forged within six weeks.

Then, there were the tests. The hook passed with flying colors.

"I was impressed with the enthusiasm," Beall said. "They were a good group of guys, very dedicated."

That dogged determination is what sold the firm on lending a hand, he said.

Beall said when he realized the firefighters really had created something unique, he decided to submit the application for the design patent.

"I was very excited when it passed the first review. I just knew they would be granted the patent."

The patent was special for Delisio, whose grandfather was a blacksmith. "It's been kind of a hobby for me. I've forged things at home."

Beall said it's essential that the proper rope, one that can withstand high temperatures, is sewn onto the hook.

"Our company has always been committed to safety. It's important that firefighters receive the proper training. We've always included information with each hook."

He also pointed out that the hook is just part of the spring-loaded personal safety system now being carried by all FDNY firefighters.

Beall said he was pleased to hear that the hook was credited with getting the firefighter out of the building.

"I was really happy to hear about it," he said. "That's exciting."

Firefighter George Grammas said of the invention: "It was a lot of hard work. But it was well worth it. We knew it was important to get it out there."

Grammas was assigned to Ladder 102 in Brooklyn, the same station as Pollard whose life was saved by the hook last week.

Another recently retired FDNY lieutenant who worked on the project, Jimmy Kelly, said it's a unique piece of equipment that will save lives.

"There's nothing else out there like it. It's a new tool. The Crosby Hook will make a difference."

Kelly said there was a lot of trial and error, and credited Delisio and Grammas for perfecting the design.

Proceeds from the sale of the hooks in New York City will go to the Alvassar fund to assist injured firefighters with expenses.

Delisio said it's the team's intention to also donate a portion of money from other sales to the National Fallen Firefighters' Foundation.

Information about the hook as well as a list of regional distributors can be found at The Crosby Group.$57865