Father drops toddler into DC firefighter’s arms during apartment blaze

A D.C. firefighter made a great catch Sunday night.

He caught a little boy dropped from a smoky second-story window of a burning apartment building in Southeast.

Jared McKinney, a wagon driver for Engine Co. 25, said the father was holding the child out of the window.

“He told me … ‘catch my child, don’t drop him,’ and he dropped the child down, and I caught the child,” McKinney said.

An extension ladder was used to rescue the dad, mom and another small child from the second-floor window of the apartment building on Alabama Avenue Southeast, near Seventh Street in the Congress Heights neighborhood.

“Every fire ground is different,” said McKinney, and while he’s rescued people before in his 17-year career, this is the first time he caught a child from a burning building.

“When he dropped the child down, I extended my arms, and when I felt the child made contact, I just cradled the child to my body,” said McKinney, who was born and raised in Southeast.

And it wasn’t exactly an easy catch, because the child came down feet first, and McKinney had to avoid getting kicked in the face.

“I told him to stay right here with me and everything would be OK,” he recalled. “By that time we had the rest of his family down, and we could return him to his family.”

No one was injured.

For McKinney and his crewmates at Engine 25, the rescues are all part of a night’s work.

“I’m just happy that we were here to do our job and do it to the best of our ability and make sure that everybody was able to safely go home,” said McKinney.

Driving fire engines and rescuing people are a family tradition for McKinney. His father Jackie McKinney, who retired in 2016, served for 31 years in the very same job — wagon driver for Engine Co. 25.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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