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11 December 2023

How Dubai firefighter's gut feeling saved photographer's life [video]

By Staff


Many a time, gut feelings prove true. But imagine when this comes true for a firefighter  running around to save lives of people in a building on fire.

Hassan Al Baluchi, a firefighter in the Dubai Civil Defence team, narrates the story of how he saved the life of  photographer Dennis Mallory who works for Arabic daily  Al Bayan during The Address Downtown Dubai fire on New Year eve.

Hassan Al Baluchi and his teammates were among the first firefighters to reach the scene with a mission – evacuating people inside the building under priority protection plan to save lives before anything else.

“When I was on the 35th floor to carry out my assigned task, I received a call from my colleagues saying there was a person – or more – crammed on the 48th floor. My colleagues asked me to climb up to the 48th floor and look for people in every room. I climbed quickly through the stairs without any equipment.

“When I went to the floor, I was surprised that the door was closed and could only be opened with a security card. Time was important, so I looked for another entrance and found a door. It was closed but I pushed it with my body and, fortunately, it opened.

“I was able to enter the room but there was another door which opened in the similar manner. Now I was in the pumps and air conditioning room where I found photographic equipment belonging to a photographer, but did not find anyone,” Al Baluchi told Emarat Al Youm in an interview.

During the search operations, the young and bold firefighter looked down through the balcony and shouted in case someone was trapped there. But there was no reply.

“At that moment I talked to my colleagues and told them that perhaps there was an error in determining the place and then I moved to 53rd floor where I found my colleagues.

“But there was a doubt in my mind and I had a gut feeling that someone was trapped there somewhere and probably had lost consciousness due to smoke. Therefore, I decided to go back to 48th floor again. While looking around I heard the metallic sound as if someone is knocking at the door. Suddenly I spotted two feet from the base of the window.

“I came closer and was surprised to see a man hanging with a metal rope used in cleaning the building's facade. I reached him with great difficulty and then dragged him into the building by pulling from the belt,” the young firefighter revealed during the interview.

“When I asked him (photographer) why he did not respond to me earlier, he replied that he saw my shadow and called me but I couldn’t hear him due to the noise.”

Al Baluchi said the photographer was not in good condition due to the shock and his hands were hurt because he was holding the copper rope tightly.

“I was sorry for not hearing him in the first attempt but was happy when I saved him," he said.

Al Baluchi also helped him locate his photographic equipment.

Al Bayan photojournalist Dennis Mallory spent nearly an hour hanging by the metal rope from the balcony of the 48th floor of The Address hotel. Mallory clung to the rope and never lost hope.