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Firefighter Critically Injured In Brooklyn Blaze Faces Long Road To Recovery

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A New York City firefighter critically injured battling a Brooklyn blaze this week will need one year to fully recover, doctors said Thursday.

Firefighter Robert Wiedmann, 38, can expect a long road to recovery after sustaining burns to over 40 percent of his body -- including his head, face and back -- after responding to a Monday fire in Crown Heights.  Firefighter James Gersbeck, 52, was also taken to the hospital in serious condition.

"We just ask everybody to keep Robert in your thoughts and prayers and as well as Jimmy. These are truly two of the bravest and certainly the greatest firemen I know," Wiedmann's brother, Douglas, said Thursday.

Doctors provided a relatively positive outlook during a news conference at Cornell Medical Center. They said that while most people in a similar situation would need to be put in a medically inducted coma, Wiedmann remains psychologically and physically strong, 1010 WINS' Eileen Lehpamer reported.

1010 WINS' Eileen Lehpamer Reports


It is expected that Wiedmann will remain in the hospital for another 6-8 weeks and will need many more surgeries before fully recovering.

In total, 12 units and about 100 firefighters responded to the fire on the 3rd floor of the Prospect Place brownstone. Investigators do not believe the fire was suspicious, but the firefighters union said severe injuries would have been avoided if not for budget cuts that shrunk five-man crews to four-man units.

"The staffing had been cut on Feb. 1. The direct result is it took over 1 minute extra to get water on the fire. If 234 had been fully staffed, we wouldn't have 2 firefighters in the burn center today. None of this would have happened. One firefighter's life is hanging in the balance right now because of Bloomberg administration cuts to firefighter staffing," said Steve Cassidy, of the Uniformed Firefighter's Association.

The FDNY responded to Cassidy's comments, saying there were multiple units on the scene within 3 minutes after officials received the call. In addition, the FDNY said that firefighters put water on the fire three minutes after arriving on the scene, adding that the amount of time it took to get water on the fire was efficient.

Meanwhile Gersbeck is in fair condition and won't have a long hospitalization.  Three other firefighters also sustained injuries in Monday's fire.

The FDNY has also set up a blood drive to try to help Firefighter Wiedmann in his recovery. If you are interested in donating, please click here for more information.

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