Neighbor had left food on stove

By Nik Bonopartis Poughkeepsie Journal

August 17, 2005

FISHKILL — Following their noses, and their fire safety lessons, two 11-year-olds helped firefighters save a neighbor's home Tuesday.

Jennifer Kocur and Ryan Sherwood, who will start sixth-grade at Van Wyck Middle School this year, were playing outside at about 11:30 a.m. when they heard a smoke alarm go off.

"We smelled smoke and we followed it and then we saw smoke coming out of a window" of a neighbor's home in their complex off of Elmcrest Drive, Jennifer said.

Initially, Jennifer and Ryan weren't sure if there was real danger, but they quickly decided to act.

"At first, I thought someone was cooking something, but then it smelled really bad," Ryan said. "You couldn’t even see [through] the window."

The friends rang the door bell of the home and checked the adjoining houses in the complex to make sure no one was home at the time.

Father called for help

Then, they ran back and told Jennifer's dad, William Kocur, and he called firefighters and police.

The Rombout Fire Department arrived within minutes and found food that had been left on a stove over an open flame.

It hadn't transformed into a full-fledged fire yet, but the homeowner had left and the potential for disaster was there. Fire officials said there could have been much more damage had Ryan and Jennifer not spotted the smoke as quickly as they did.

"The kids did a nice job and they certainly saved a lot of smoke damage on the house," Rombout fire Chief Jeff Marino said.

About 15 firefighters responded to the scene and cleared it within about 20 minutes, Marino said.

For the children, it's proof they were paying attention during the fire safety sessions they've been through at school.

They immediately thought to get help, and also had the presence of mind to check for anyone who may have been inside.

"I was so proud of the both of them for the courage to be able to do that," William Kocur said.

On Tuesday, they earned the gratitude of a neighbor and of firefighters.

The fire department is planning to hold a small ceremony to honor Jennifer and Ryan in the near future.

"These kids did a nice thing," firefighter and Rombout spokesman Kevin Barry said. "We want to thank them."

About Rombout

Rombout is an all volunteer fire company formed in 1971, and is named after the “ Rombout Patent ” which once covered most of the land in Dutchess County, NY. Rombout has about 50 active members, and many more exempt/associate members.

Rombout Fire Company protects the Rombout Fire District. Rombout is one of five fire departments or districts that protect the residents of the Town & Village of Fishkill, NY.

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