BULLS HEAD, Staten Island (PIX11) – A routine house fire on Staten Island almost cost a firefighter his life.

Dominic Ventolora, 35, of Engine 166 on Staten Island, is an eight-year veteran. On Friday night he rushed to a house fire on Gary Court when, as the lead firefighter on the hose, the equipment malfunctioned.

“He was the first person on the hose line. He holds the nozzle that puts the fire out. When he started that process, somehow the nozzle became loose and hit him in the face, knocking his mask off,” said John Hodgens, the FDNY Chief of Department. “He took two breaths in of superheated gas. It’s like breathing fire.”

Fellow firefighters rushed Ventolora to the Staten Island University Hospital’s burn unit. The FDNY said it was touch and go for Ventolora Friday night. He was in a life-or-death situation in critical condition.

“He is doing better today, thanks in part to the swift work at the burn center,” said Laura Kavanagh, acting FDNY commissioner. “We do know he’s done some incredible work before. He has saved lives.”

Just last September, Ventolora, along with fellow firefighter Thomas DeWaters, rescued a baby in a minivan caught in rising floodwaters. They brought the whole family to safety. 

The family of the woman whose house caught fire on Friday night is so happy to hear Ventolora will make a full recovery.

“I am glad he’s doing well and he’s safe,” said Victoria Briones, the daughter of the woman who owned the house that caught fire on Gary Court. “Thanks for this, thanks a lot.”

The cause of the fire has been ruled accidental and electrical. There were no civilian injuries in the fire.