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Mike Girous, Rappelling NY Firefighter, Rescues Trapped Workers

03/ 4/11 09:45 PM ET   AP

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YONKERS, N.Y. — A firefighter rappelled down the side of a high-rise building Friday to rescue two men who were dangling from safety ropes after their scaffolding collapsed.

The firefighter, Mike Girous, said afterward, "It was pretty fun."

The men, possibly painters, were trapped 12 stories above a street for more than an hour, secured by their safety belts, starting at about 5 p.m. News helicopters hovered above the scene in Yonkers, just north of New York City.

The workers were rescued one at a time. Girous rappelled from the roof, 26 stories above the street, to the man who was closer to the ground. Fire Commissioner Anthony Pagano said "one man was a little bit more secure than the other," so the less secure man was taken down first.

Pagano had said earlier that the men were secure enough to give rescuers time to develop a plan.

Girous secured the man to a line, then rappelled with him to the street, where he was taken off in an ambulance.

The second man was taken down in similar fashion, but he first had to be freed from the remnants of the scaffold and the various ropes and belts. He appeared to be walking after reaching the ground.

Pagano said there seemed to be no serious injuries.

Pagano praised Girous but added, "It was a team effort, and we will honor them all."

Girous praised his colleagues on the roof who kept him secure and said he was well-prepared because of his training.

Before the rappelling rescue, a tall ladder was raised from a fire truck at the scene, but it was about two stories too short to reach the lower man.

The building, which has many apartments for seniors and a senior center, is one of the tallest in Yonkers, a city that borders the Bronx.

The cause of the scaffold collapse wasn't immediately known.

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Filed by Jonah Green  |