Florida welcomes firefighter Gene Stolowski back home

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:54

Florida - It's been a long journey. It started last January when firefighter Eugene Stolowski was forced to jump from a fiery four-story apartment in the Bronx. He survived that leap, but the injuries he suffered - among them a broken neck, fractures of the pelvis and burns - were severe, even life-threatening. Stolowski, a member of Ladder Co. #27 in New York City, also is an active volunteer member of the Florida Fire Department and Rescue Squad. Many members of both the FDNY as well as the Florida Fire Department were on hand to welcome him home to Village Park in the Village of Florida this past Wednesday from a rehabilitation center in New Jersey. The 33-year-old firefighter returned home briefly in July where he presided as honorary parade chairman at the 120th anniversary celebration of the Highland Engine and Hose Co. #3 of Florida. As welcome as that return was, this one was much sweeter. A caravan led by a ladder truck from Ladder Co. #27 pulled into Village Park a little after 2 p.m. Several fire vehicles from the Florida department escorted the FDNY transport vehicle carrying the smiling Stolowski to his balloon-decorated neighborhood. The road to full recovery is still a formidable one. But Stolowski was able to walk from the transport vehicle to his house and backyard deck with just a little assistance from a buddy from Ladder Co. #27. The applause accompanying that walk was uplifting as well. Seated at a patio table the beaming firefighter, in dress uniform, welcomed well-wishers with a firm handshake or hug. The biggest hug was reserved for his two-year-old daughter, Briana. Besides Briana, there are twin daughters, Kaitlin and Kailee, and a very grateful wife, Brigid.