Number of Participants: 2
Hours Donated: 2
Value of Time Served: $34
Event Type: Health & Safety
Date: November 30, 2018
After their efforts helping local residents during a kitchen fire, two Massapequa High School students were asked to serve on the school’s safety committee.
Sophomores Thomas Lippolt and Scott Rathjen had stayed after school for winter sports tryouts on Nov. 15 and were walking home west on Merrick Road when they came across a young boy yelling for help. A fire broke out in the oven and the young boy’s older brother, a classmate at Massapequa High School, was trying to put it out with water. Scott went inside, his shirt pulled over his face because of the smoke, and led the older brother outside. He went back in to rescue the young boy’s hamster, then went to the basement and turned off the electricity. When the electricity was turned off, it alerted an upstairs tenant of the situation, and was able to leave safely.
Thomas, after calling 911, went next door to a dentist’s office and grabbed a fire extinguisher, which he used to put out the flames as Scott used the flashlight on his phone to find the oven through the smoke. After knocking down the fire, they opened windows to let the smoke out. By then, emergency responders were arriving and Thomas and Scott spoke to police officers and firefighters.
The following day, an officer from the Seventh Precinct called Principal Brian Conboy to tell them about the heroic efforts of the two students. Mr. Conboy immediately asked Thomas and Scott to join the school’s safety committee, a group of administrators, teachers and students who review existing safety protocols and make recommendations for enhancements. They participated in their first meeting on Nov. 28.
“To be able to think clearly in an emergency situation, not everyone can do that,” Mr. Conboy said. “The decisions that these fine young me had to make could have saved lives and somebody’s home.”
Scott, whose grandfather retired after 38 years in the New York City Fire Department, noted the importance of staying calm in an emergency situation. He said he was happy that no one got hurt and that the family was still able to live in the house.
“I’m always happy to help anyone that needs it,” added Thomas. “That’s what you’re supposed to do. When someone asks for help, you give it.”