Firefighter who rescued crane-climber a humble hero

Toronto won’t soon forget the The Girl on The Crane or the Man on a Wire who saved her.


There’s lots of conjecture about what the heck she was doing up there but everybody knows his motivation.

He was a humble hero who crawled up and rapelled down at his own risk to save her.

“It really was a team effort,” said Toronto firefighter Rob Wonfor. “I was just the guy who went up there. Any one of us would have done it.”

Those guys are made of something special.

As people around the world watched the rescue live on TV, people marvelled over the incredible poise and calmness displayed by the firefighter.

All in a day’s work, he said.

“We were amazed at how calm she was. She had climbed before. Her father is an arborist,” Wonfor told me. “She was stone-cold calm. We all couldn’t believe it. We could get her some training and she could do rescues.”

Perhaps so, but not for a while.

Toronto Police arrested Marisa Lazo, 23, and charged her with six counts of public mischief. She’s scheduled to make a court appearance on Thursday.

Wonfor said they completed the rescue from high above the crowd at Church and Wellesley Sts. as a “team.” They communicated and kept it light and became fast friends.

“I told her I had a hockey game at 11 a.m. and I wanted to make it,” he said. “I didn’t want to leave the team stuck.”

She did her part.

“We said we would stay in touch,” Wonfor added. “We are going to have her down to the (313) fire hall for dinner. She has quite a story to tell.”

So does Wonfor.

He is not only the toast of Toronto but the toast of Toronto Fire.

But maybe not so much from his hockey team in the District 3 tournament in which he plays goaltender. Dan Vieira from the firefighters’ union said while peers can be “ruthless,” the truth is they are very proud of him.

They just didn’t let him know it.

“I think that was his only good save of the day,” teased colleague Murdo Moody at the McCormick Arena in Parkdale.

Lots of other jokes from his pals, too, of his 5-3 loss — even though he actually played pretty well and even stopped one with his mask.

Still, they were not going to let him steal the headlines more than once on this day.

“From hero to zero,” teased one,

“Good thing it wasn’t an ice rescue,” was another.

One hockey legend did call him, though.

“Rob, you are my kind of guy,” Don Cherry said over the phone. “I just want to thank you and your whole team.”

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