Call him the hero mailman

— Mail car­ri­er makes a first-class de­liv­ery in Somer­ton

Loc­al mail car­ri­er Tommy Mar­tin stands in front of house 860 on Hendrix St., where a few weeks ago he helped res­cue a young moth­er, her 9-month-old child, and their two dogs from a house fire, April 6, 2012, Phil­adelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouch­nikova)


There’s a les­son to be learned about mail car­ri­er Tom Mar­tin’s hero­ic ac­tions at the scene of a March 15 house fire on his daily route in Somer­ton.

Mar­tin could’ve stormed in­to the burn­ing, smoke-filled twin that morn­ing to res­cue a wo­man, her in­fant child and the fam­ily’s two small dogs. But he didn’t.

He kept his head.

And he helped the wo­man keep hers.

As a res­ult, the wo­man, her baby and both pets sur­vived the blaze un­scathed.

“I didn’t think it was a very big deal, but some people think it’s something,” said Mar­tin, 53, a Felton­ville nat­ive and former North­east res­id­ent now liv­ing in Rich­boro, Bucks County.

The fire oc­curred on the 800 block of Hendrix St. Mar­tin had already de­livered mail to the homes on that block and was walk­ing door-to-door on Bar­low Street, one block to the south. He began to hear the eer­ie sound of burn­ing.

“Nobody was out there and I heard the crack­ling of fire, like something was burn­ing,” he said. “I thought maybe some­body was burn­ing wood, then I thought, ‘Nah.’

“I know what wood burn­ing sounds like. I have a wood stove. I knew it was something else.”

He walked in­to a back yard for a closer look. He saw flames start­ing to en­gulf the rear of a house on Hendrix Street.

“I knew it wasn’t little,” he said.

His first in­stinct was to call 911. Know­ing that En­gine 58 is sta­tioned at 812 Hendrix St., he hoped fire­fight­ers would be there quickly.

Then again, he didn’t want to risk wait­ing those few ex­tra mo­ments, so he leapt in­to ac­tion.

He climbed over a 3- or 4-foot fence and jumped down a 4-foot re­tain­ing wall in­to a yard on Hendrix Street. Then he cut through an­oth­er neigh­bor’s yard to get to the front door of the burn­ing house. The young moth­er had her baby in her arms.

Mar­tin and a neigh­bor said that the child is less than a year old. They are un­cer­tain of the gender. The North­east Times was un­able to reach the fam­ily, which was dis­placed from its home.

“[The wo­man] came run­ning out with her baby. She hands the baby to a neigh­bor and I said, ‘Is every­body out?’ ” Mar­tin re­called. “She said her two little dogs were still in­side. She has two little white dogs. I knew we had some time, so I said, ‘Let’s go get them.’ ”

They didn’t have as much time as he thought. When the duo re­opened the front door, smoke came bil­low­ing out.

“You couldn’t see a foot in front of you and it was [only burn­ing] like three minutes. Both of us put a foot in the front door and I said, ‘We can’t go in there,’ ” Mar­tin re­called.

“We looked at each oth­er and both knew it was too bad. I grabbed her arm and she said, ‘I know, you’re right.’ ”

They left the door open, hop­ing the dogs would come run­ning. But they didn’t. They prob­ably were hid­ing from the flames.

Mar­tin hoped fire­fight­ers would res­cue the dogs. As the en­gine ar­rived, a neigh­bor wrapped the wo­man’s baby in a blanket. After about 20 minutes, Mar­tin knew he had to re­turn to his mail route, not know­ing the fate of the pets.

The vic­tims and neigh­bors gave him a full re­port the next day.

“I heard the fire­fight­ers put out the flames, then the dogs came run­ning down,” Mar­tin said. “They were covered in soot. The lady said they were fine the next day. I think they were in (the fire) a half-hour. Be­cause they’re so small, they prob­ably were un­der the smoke.”

Mar­tin, the fath­er of three adult chil­dren, was glad he didn’t have to do more in the heat of the mo­ment.

“I’m just glad the baby was out be­cause [the moth­er] would’ve gone in and I would’ve gone in. You’re go­ing to do whatever you can to get the baby out of there,” he said.

It’s like a par­ent­al in­stinct.

“Yeah,” he agreed.

As for the dogs …

“I’m ac­tu­ally a cat lov­er, but a lot of my friends are dog lov­ers and I know they would do any­thing for their dogs, too,” Mar­tin said.

Those af­fected by the fire had noth­ing but praise the fol­low­ing day. Mar­tin has been a mail car­ri­er for 25 years, in­clud­ing 15 years based at the Bustleton post of­fice. He’s been on his cur­rent route for just six months.

“I don’t think it was any big deal. But the next day, the hus­band and wife came down and they were very, very thank­ful I called 911 right away,” Mar­tin said. “And the hus­band was really glad we didn’t go back in. The lady next door, she was thank­ing me up and down. She had a lot of smoke come through the wall and she said if I didn’t call (911) so soon, her house would’ve burnt.

“I just figured, I’m there, I’ve got to do something to help. That’s the way I was raised.” ••


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