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Men See Restaurant Going Up in Flames. Form Human Ladder to Save Owners on 2nd Floor

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Good things come in threes. Especially heroes.

Andy Mottram, Kevin Bauman, and Frank DeMaio, all of Morristown, are being lauded as heroes for their selfless efforts in rescuing two people from a burning building.

Their bravery saved the lives of the owners of a popular local eating institution.

On Nov. 27, 2017, Billy & Madeline’s Red Room Tavern in Whippany was ablaze. It just happened that Bauman and Mottram were out looking for some place to stop for lunch.

They saw the fire and the fact that the fire department had not yet arrived, so they pulled over and went to see if there was anything they could do.

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Their eyes were drawn to a second floor window where Madeline was frantically searching for help.

Without a second thought, the two men ran over to the building. Mottram is just under seven feet tall, the perfect height for the rescue the two men devised.

Mottram stood under the window while Bauman climbed onto his shoulders. Using this human ladder technique, they were able to free Madeline from the fire.

As they got her out, she started screaming for her husband. That’s where DeMaio enters the story.

The former firefighter was also driving by when he saw the blaze. He heard Madeline’s screams and, in a quick scan of the area, spotted Billy at the door of the restaurant.

DeMaio ran through the smoke to get the man to safety. Everyone escaped with only minor injuries.

The three rescuers were recently presented with awards from the township. An honor that Bauman humbly accepted.

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“I kind of feel like I don’t necessarily deserve this, because the worst thing would have been to do nothing. So I appreciate this so much. It’s not going to stop this from going on a wall in my house at all,” he said.

DeMaio said, “I give these two guys more credit than anything. These guys put a plan together just like that and it was a great plan.”

Fire Chief Joseph Cortright said that the three did what trained firefighters normally do. “In the four minutes between the time of the dispatch and arrival on the scene, the Fornaros were out of the restaurant,” and safe from the flames, Cortright said.

And that’s really what being a hero is, isn’t it? Simply doing the right thing, even, or especially, in difficult times.

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