Firefighter Dennis J Mullins, a 34-year veteran, and highly decorated firefighter in Mount Vernon, NY, made the ultimate sacrifice in 1995. Working an active fire in January 1994 he collapsed of a heart attack while pulling a line to a hydrant. He never regained consciousness, remaining in a vegetative state for 371 days, and succumbed to his injuries on January 18, 1995. He was just 59 years old.
Firefighter Mullins is the only firefighter in the history of the Department to receive the Medal of Valor, the City’s highest award. This award was presented on Memorial Day 1978 for his unselfish and heroic act of saving a fellow firefighter from certain death while battling a multi-alarm blaze in 1977.
Mullins was ventilating a roof with Firefighter Norman when it gave way. Mullins dove and caught Firefighter Norman as he was falling through the roof. He then pulled Norman out of the hole just before the roof collapsed. Norman had caught fire and was badly burned on most of his lower body. Firefighter Norman survived his injuries and credited Mullins with saving his life.
Dennis has been honored at the National Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Emmitsburg, MD, the IAFF Memorial in Colorado Springs, and the Westchester County Fire Training Center in Elmsford, NY. A plaque is also displayed at the Mount Vernon Fire Department headquarters in honor of his sacrifice.
Dennis was also proud Korean Wartime Veteran serving in the 82nd and 101st Airborne. He was laid to rest at Calverton National Cemetery in NY.
At the time of his death, Dennis was survived by his wife of 35 years Marilyn, two daughters Susan and Diane, son Thomas, and four grandchildren.
In this post 9/11 world we live in, it is often easy to forget those who unselfishly protect us each day. In honor of all the fallen, next time you see one of this Country’s “Bravest” remember the sacrifices they make every day and let them know they are appreciated by just saying Thank You.