“Right now the phone line is going crazy and it’s all news people. The calls are coming from all over the country.”
Teel Coleman, acting as receptionist in Mayor Cory Booker’s office, couldn’t answer the calls coming in fast enough. “Good morning. Mayor’s office. Please hold.” Someone just called from London,” Coleman announced, “She wanted an interview about the mayor’s heroic actions.”
And, according to Newark Fire Director Fateen Ziyad, Mayor Booker’s rush into a burning house was even more impressive. “It was one of the most heroic things I’ve ever seen done. He’s (Booker) kind of taking it like ‘oh it’s just something I did.’ It’s an incredible feat.”
Those same sentiments were echoed by Newark Fire Chief John Centanni. “It was a legitimate rescue. It was an heroic effort by the Mayor and his staff. It wasn’t just walking into a little smoke and walking out. Everybody was in grave danger.”
WATCH ‘ED SHOW’ COVERAGE OF BOOKER’S ACT OF HEROISM:
Cory Booker’s “heroic actions” didn’t come as a complete surprise to either Centanni or Ziyad. “That’s his character. That’s his personality.” They both agreed with Ziyad, in good humor, likening Booker to the comic book hero Superman. “The mayor, being who he is, rushed in. He changed from the mayor into Super Fireman. Going through burning buildings to rescue people.”
Booker and his detail, arriving on the scene of the burning house, immediately called the fire in, according to Ziyad. A fire crew was there two or three minutes later. Ten minutes later the fire was under control. But even though the Newark Fire Department prides itself on being the largest and the best in the state, their rapid response might not have been fast enough to save the woman trapped inside the burning house. That’s what Booker did.
“The mayor and his detail were in serious danger for their lives Everybody was in grave danger,” Centanni told theGrio, “We wear protective turnout gear, helmets, self-contained breathing apparatus.” He (Booker) didn’t have any of that.”
Ziyad also doesn’t make light of the danger the mayor was in. “I told him, ‘Thank you for what you did. But never do that again.’”
Ziyad, who’s been a fire director and professional firefighter for 27 years said, “We don’t recommend that. When they go into a burning buildings, 80 percent don’t come out.”
Neither Ziyad nor Centanni knew if the house had a smoke alarm system at the time they spoke to theGrio. However, they both urged their installation. “The lesson here,” Centanni added, “is that smoke alarms are one of the most effective ways of saving lives. It’s one of the cheapest life saving devices man has made.”
Centanni said the Newark Fire Department is proud of their rapid response to fires in the city. But the fact that the mayor was involved meant “there were no further injuries.” However, they both hope Booker doesn’t decide to change into Superman again, though Ziyad has his doubts, remembering that, shortly after coming into office, the mayor chased a robber down. “He was on the street and witnessed a person being robbed. They had a weapon and he chased him down. His detail followed and tried to stop him. That’s just his character.”
Back at the mayor’s office, the calls were still coming in and Coleman writes down the messages callers are leaving for Booker. “A man, who says he’s a Vietnam vet, just called. He wants the mayor to run for governor. Another lady wants to send him an edible fruit arrangement. A Newark resident called to say just how proud she is. ‘That’s our mayor. I love him. I love him. I love him,’” Coleman quoted the caller.
“They’re wanting to congratulate the mayor. It’s kind of exciting,” Coleman added. “It’s really good.”