NFTA Transporter

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Local hero

Rob Siegel was driving home at 2:20 a.m. the morning of July 20 after working his shift as a Helper at Frontier Station, where he’s worked since Nov. 2010 when he saw a house on fire on Farady Rd. in the Town of Tonawanda and an adjoining home starting to catch fire as well.

He immediately stopped his car and joined others on the sidewalk who had stared to gather. He took a cell phone from a neighbor who had called 911and identified himself as a volunteer fireman and confirmed to the dispatcher that a house was on fire and a neighboring home was staring to also ignite.

Being a volunteer fireman at the Ellwood Volunteer Fire Department for 20 years, Rob is trained in how to act in situations like this. As others were assisting the residents of the main fire, he ran to the neighboring home and pounded on the front door and began yelling through the windows to anyone who might have been inside that they needed to get out of the house.

As fate would have it the fire was in Rob’s Ellwood District, so he donned his firefighting gear, it was in his car, and assisted in extinguishing the fire. In his role as an “accountable” officer, he kept track of where his fellow firefighters were and made sure they were accounted for at all times.

As a result of Rob’s quick and brave actions, two people were awakened and able to get out of the house safely.

In it’s a small world scenario, one of the two people to escape the burning house was Gail Keil, an Administration Analyst at Metro’s Cold Spring facility.

In remembering that fateful night, Gail said, “My husband and I had just gone to bed an hour or so before we were awakened by a pounding on the door and the sounds of someone yelling ‘get out of the house.’”

We got right up, quickly got dressed and ran out of the house. The back wall of our house was starting to catch fire as a result of our neighbors’ house being on fire. Thankfully our home was not damaged too badly and my husband and I are okay, thanks in no small part to Rob’s quick actions.

At the time of the rescue Gail did not know Rob also worked for Metro and vise versa. She got Rob’s name from the Ellwood Fire Chief so she could write him a letter and thank him for his heroic actions, which she did.

Back at work a few days later, Gail was going over a Metro personnel budget, checking to make sure the employees names, dates, etc. were correct when she ran across a Rob Siegel who worked at Frontier. She looked up his home address and saw that he lives not too far from her home. Gail thought . . . could it be the same person? She called Mike Komenda (vehicle maintenance supervisor) at Frontier and asked him if he knew anything about a Rob Siegel, and did he know if he had helped in extinguishing a house fire the other night. Mike checked, and let Gail know that yes her Rob and his Rob are one in the same!

As we both work at different times, at different locations, Gail said, “I have not yet been able to meet Rob to thank him from the bottom of my heart for what he did for my husband and me. But it will happen soon and when I do meet him I’m going to give him a big bear hug and a kiss of thanks for what he did.”