On December 6, 1974, at 11:33 PM, Stamford Firefighters Water Finch and Frank Maciolek were among the first firefighters to arrive on the scene of a Box Alarm at 55 Lafayette Street . Flames could be seen coming out of the third-floor apartment in a six-family wood frame building. A man, later identified as the tenant, Mr Lulgjuraj, was in front of the building, shouting that his wife and daughter were still upstairs. The first due Engine crew quickly laid a 1-1/2 inch line up the front stairways to the apartment involved. In spite of heavy smoke and intense heat on the third floor, they were able to knock down the fire in the living room. At the same time, disregarding the smoke and heat and without regard for their own safety, Firefighters Walter Finch and Frank Maciolek , wearing Scott airpacks, entered the apartment in search of the victims. Mrs. Lulgjuraj and her daughter Maria were found in the adjoining bedroom and quickly brought down to the awaiting SFD ambulance.
Mrs.Lulgjuraj was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital Emergency Room, where it was determined she had second and third degree burns over 80% of her body. Young Maria Lulgjuraj was taken to the Stamford Hospital Emergency Room, where it was determined she had second and third degree burns over 40% of her body. Both victims were listed as critical.
This rescue was affected by this super effort of the entire first due company. However, the prompt actions of Finch and Maciolek in quickly locating the victims and bringing them out to safety, deserves special commendation.
Mrs. Justina Lulgjuraj, 31, sadly died on January 15, 1975. Maria Lulgjuraj, age 10, is was still responding to treatments at the Stanford Hospital. All her fingers were badly chard and subsequently amputated, leaving only her thumbs.
Deputy Chief John G Varunes, Deputy Chief of Group #4, nominated Firefighters Finch and Maciolek for an award by the Merit Awards Committee of the State Fireman’s Association on February 28, 1975. It is not clear if they received it.