Four safety officers were honored Friday for their bravery in putting out a fire on Feb. 2 at the 181st Street subway station.
Police responded to a fire on the northbound train platform where they say a man intentionally set fire to a shopping cart.
Passengers noticed immediately and got off the train quickly before alerting the four officers who were patrolling the station or work for Allied Universal Security.
The company is an additional set of eyes to help the MTA monitor the transit system.
Field Supervisor Sultan Mohamed ensured customers were safe, while Officer Richard Garcia call 911. At the same time, Officer Marcel Langhorn and Evelyn Riddick rushed to the train car where they poured bottled water for the flames.
Once the fire started to subside, they stomped out the rest of the fire.
Further investigation revealed the shopping cart was filled with clothes and a small propane tank. Had the fire gotten bigger, it could have destroyed the entire train car — or even the station.
“The actions of these security officers are beyond commendable and are truly an act of bravery and heroism,” said New York City Transit Interim President Craig Cipriano. “We are grateful for their quick thinking and appreciate how helpful they were in preventing a potentially much more dangerous situation for riders.”
No injuries were reported and there was only minor damage to the floor of the train and scorched seats.
The suspect, described as in his 40s and wearing all black, ran away from the scene.
That fire was only the latest of three arson fires in the past week, all of them, on the Number 1 train. Another fire was discovered as the train entered the 18th Street Station in Chelsea one week ago Friday.
“There was there was smoke, there was a piece of rolling luggage which was which was fully ablaze and it was melting into the seats,” said eyewitness Brendan Cochrane.
It was nearly two years ago that a subway motorman was killed in an arson fire onboard his Number 2 train in Harlem.
Since then, the number of fires in the subway system has been rising, although arson fires are uncommon.
“It’s just going to be an all-out effort with us, NYPD, and also homeless services to get our system where we, you know, get our customers feeling safe-in and around our system-once again,” said interim transit president Craig Cipriano.
Transit officials, who have lost half their ridership to the pandemic, are determined to lure them back. But crime is up by 70% and these latest incidents may not make it any easier.