Public Safety Officer Angel Martinez was honored by his superiors this month for his role in stopping a car fire in the Manhattan College Parking Garage on Jan. 30.
The fire occurred as an unnamed student drove a 1970’s model Chevrolet into the parking garage on Manhattan College Parkway and sputtered to a stop at the entrance of the structure, according to the Public Safety report.
“I was walking towards the garage and up Manhattan College Parkway and I saw this car coming up, well first I heard it, ‘cause it was making a really loud noise,” Martinez said. “His car just starts smoking and he stops there, or I guess the car died, and he comes out, opens the hood and he opens it, I see the flame.”
Martinez said that he ran to guard booth at the entrance to the garage and grabbed a fire extinguisher, then approached the car and out the fire out.
“The first thing that I’m thinking is ‘get him out of there,’ so I’m yelling ‘get out, get out, get out of the way,’” he said. “I just started spraying the car, now the first flame went down and I noticed there was still a little bit of flame by the engine so I sprayed again and, yeah, that’s pretty much when all the fire was put out and thankfully it didn’t get much farther than that.”
According to the director of Public Safety, Juan Cerezo and David Erosa, assistant director, the car was also leaking gas and “there was a strong smell of fumes.”
The VP of facilities [Andy Ryan] said ‘look if that car had exploded there, not only could there have been injuries, but it could have prevented that entryway from being used,’ it could have created a lot of disruption here at the college, that’s why we were happy with the way he handled it,” Cerezo said.
Martinez received numerous congratulations from the Manhattan College community, including Ryan, and John Bennet of student activities. According to Cerezo, even the firefighters that arrived on scene were pleased with Martinez’ handiwork.
“We get a fireguard certification that we have to renew every few years and they teach us how to react to different fires and what to do, so it’s part of the job,” he said. “Now I would lie to you if I tell you I’ve ever put out a fire before, this is actually the first fire I’ve ever put out in my personal life of here—I don’t know, I guess it was just instinct.”
Martinez was hired on September 16, 2008, on the advice of his father who was a porter in Jasper Hall for 13 years.
“He was the one telling me to come work here because he thought this was a great place to work,” he said. “I could also take advantage of the education as well.”
Martinez is also a senior in the school of education, in the physical education department. In this final semester, he is student teaching at the Fieldston School and working 40 hours at MC as soon as he finishes.
“As soon as I was done with the probationary period, I started taking the classes,” Martinez said. “Ideally I would like to find a teaching job right away and maybe stay here in like a part-time based, we’ll see how that works with the teaching schedule and whatnot.”