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William La Jeunesse says; "Forest policy prohibits firefighting helicopters from drawing water from protected streams out fear they will scoop up endangered fish. Exemptions require review by government biologists.
Veteran firefighter says; "Lots of people lost friends.
People, Oh! See now I am going to cry. So many lost their children, for a fish!
Ref: Endangered Fish Policy May Have Cost Firefighters' Lives
Firefighters Tom L. Craven, 30, Karen L. Fitzpatrick, 18, Devin A Weaver, 21, and Jessica L. Johnson, 19, burned to death while cowering under protective tents near the Chewuch River, home to protected species of salmon and trout.
MY BROTHER HAS FALLEN
My Brother has fallen; no I don't know his name, Have not the same parents still family all the same, He lives in this town, I live in another, It doesn't really matter cause this man is my Brother.
My Brother I call him yet I've never seen his face I have brothers and sisters all over the place, You see I am a Firefighter and our families are one, A tradition for years past from father to son.
Around the world, a brotherhood of unity, A closeness, a bond, most people don't see, I'll watch his back; She'll watch mine, "You go, I go" time after time.
His family's my family, Her family theirs, We're part of one family where everyone cares, I'll look after your kids, please look in on my wife, Should that day finally come when I laid down my life. We dedicate our lives helping our fellow man, Living day after day doing all that we can, Where ever we're needed whether nighttime or day, To save the life of another we'll step in harms way.
My Brother has fallen doing what he loved best, And among the Honored, he now stands with the rest For a mile in dress uniform here everyone stands, For my Brother has fallen God, into your hands. AUTHOR: Rick Martin,
Firefighter Donald Franklin
Firefighter Donald Franklin
Firefighter John J. Downing
Firefighter Harry Ford
Firefighter Brian Fahey
Harry Fordwith his kids Harry Jr. and Gerard
Brian Fahey with his kids James, Brendanand Patrick
John Downing with his kids Joanne and Michael
Are Honored 3 firefighters, 5 cops & guy in scuba mask
Christopher McCarthy of Woodside used two
unlikely lifesaving devices a wet blanket and a scuba mask when
he tried to rescue his elderly neighbor from a fire in April.
While on his way to work on the evening of April 19, McCarthy, 36, spotted smoke billowing from his neighbor's house two doors down on 66th St. and ran to help. He found a man attempting to break open a window, who told McCarthy his father was still inside. "I first tried to go through the front door, but I couldn't get more than 3 feet in. The smoke was too bad," McCarthy said.
He jumped through a window to enter the
house, but still couldn't get very far.
McCarthy then ran to get a wet blanket to put over his head to protect himself from smoke. "I could hear the man moaning inside," he said. The blanket didn't provide enough protection, so McCarthy ran back for his scuba mask. Luckily, the Fire Department had arrived by that time. Firefighters were able to save 92-year-old Joseph Kukla from his burning home.
Kukla and his son Don, 60, were both treated for smoke inhalation and burns. Cops from the 108th Precinct also arrived at the chaotic scene to render assistance to the injured.
The Kuklas are alive because of the heroic efforts of McCarthy and the rescue personnel, said Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Queens). The congressman honored nine people yesterday and presented them with Congressional Citations for bravery.
"You make our neighborhoods safer," Crowley told the rescue personnel. "You make the absolute sacrifice on a daily basis." Honored were Lt. Kevin Dowdell and Firefighters James Finnell and John Gaine of the FDNY's Rescue 4; Sgt.
Thomas Larson and Police Officers Elizabeth Cutrone, Greg Hein, William Vanson and Sandra Klenosky of the 108th Precinct, and McCarthy, a civilian. Finnell and Gaine were the two men who pulled the elder Kukla from the burning house, which had more obstacles than simply smoke and flames. "The house was loaded with debris," said Finnell. "Stuff was piled up about 4 feet high.
We had to crawl over things." Finnell climbed into the cluttered house through a first-floor window and crawled blindly through the flames to find Joseph Kukla. He found the man unconscious and wedged between a chair and a couch.
Gaine helped Finnell remove Kukla, who was barely breathing. Finnell and Gaine described their actions as "just part of the job." McCarthy said it was simply instinct that caused him to try to help before firefighters and police arrived. "It's not even a thinking thing," he said. "I could hear the man inside. I just felt bad I couldn't get to him. "When the Fire Department got him out there, I thanked God for that."
Legacies Of 3 Fallen Bravest
By EMILY GEST
Daily News Staff Writer
Like fathers, like sons.
Three young men whose firefighter dads died on the job almost 26 years ago joined New York's Bravest yesterday. "I've been waiting for this job for as long as I can remember," said John Flanagan, 31, who graduated from the Fire Academy yesterday with his brother Glenn, 30.
Their father, Jake, died at 32 in December 1975 after he tried to rescue his captain from toxic fumes in a Queens fire.
The brothers will serve in the Bronx Glenn with Engine Co. 62 and John with Engine Co. 79. Also among the graduating class of 149 yesterday was Sean Robertson, whose father, James, died of a heart attack at 32 while battling a Brooklyn blaze in July 1975. "There's nothing else I could have done with my life but this," said Robertson, 29.
He graduated from Adelphi University with a degree in business and worked on Wall Street, but the 9-to-5 routine didn't appeal to him. "This feels right. I'm good at it," said Robertson, who will serve with Engine Co. 23 in Brooklyn.
The Following, is a letter addressed to
all FDNY & NYPD Disabled, Vested & Pre '68 Retirees
from theVSF Coalition, Inc.
It is posted on this site for your perusal, edification and determination.
The VSF Coalition Inc.(a group of FDNY disability,
vested and pre- '68 service retirees) has acquired a copy of Assembly
Bill A-8416, which seeks to allow FDNY
& NYPD (post October 1968) service retirees to collect the current COLA
without any offset to their VSF (Defined Benefit) payment. Remarkably, any hint
of this bill was conspicuously omitted from the UFA's legislative agenda, which
was sent out to ALL active & retired FDNY members in a recent "Fire
Lines" (UFA newsletter). Didn't the UFA want disability and vested
retirees to know their, seemingly, hidden agenda ? Why the secrecy ?
A- 8416 was proposed by both Fire & Police Unions with encouragement and assistance from COAAP (FDNY Service Retirees). COAAP is the same group, that conspired with the UFA and filed an "Amicus Currae" (Friend of the Court), whose sole purpose was to beg the Courts, in the Coalition's litigation, to keep disability and vested retirees excluded from the VSF (Defined Benefit). COAAP was successful in their effort, along with the City and Unions, in preventing the VSF Coalition, Inc., from having Discovery and, therefore, a Trial. The City, unions and COAAP's combined motions effectively precluded disability and vested retirees from having their day in court !
The Courts simply fell back on "Castellano I " and reiterated that the 1968 Contract was "Conspicuously Silent", as to who the beneficiaries of the VSF were and, furthermore, that the N. Y. State Legislature made the exclusion of disabled & vested retirees. Of course, disability retirees have been trying to get an "Inquiry Bill" passed for many years, to see why the legislature decided to exclude them but the sophistry of the City, Unions & COAAP make it a high hurdle to overcome. It is time for the thousands of disabled, vested and pre-'68 retirees to unite and take pen-in-hand to write their state legislators or have relatives and friends write, call or e-mail in their behalf.
COAAP would now like to undo a 1989 contract and overturn a current law that prohibits Service Retirees from collecting the COLA without an offset to the VSF payment. The VSF Coalition, Inc., on the other hand, merely asks for an Inquiry as to why the Legislature decided to exclude disability & vested retirees from participating in the VSF (Defined Benefit). It's unthinkable as to why Service retirees and the unions have fought an Inquiry. Common sense tells us, only those who are fearful of the truth would be against an inquiry. The Coalition doesn't need to undo the 1968 contract, as it didn't exclude anyone, until legislation was enacted several years later, which limited the eligible beneficiaries of the fund. Surprisingly, though, it somehow found a way to include Article 1 retirees, who weren't even part of the 1B retirement system (where the moneys originated), and 71 Vested Retirees.
Hopefully, Service Retirees realize, by now, that there was (is) more than enough moneys available in the VSF for ALL Retirees. Are their accusations of Greed actually a misrepresentation of their own Jealousy ? The City has saved over 4 1/2 billion dollars since 1989 due to the VSF scheme. Hello ! This was (is) OUR money! The Unions and COAAP treated Disability Retirees with disdain, but the Coalition feels strongly that there should never be any reason to play "Get - Even". Rather, this may be a time to support service retirees in their quest to undo a contract and law, even though we didn't hear them screaming when the 1989 contract and law was signed, that prohibited them from double dipping until the year 2007. Will they now be haunted by their own rhetoric, as they once asked why disabled retirees weren't screaming in 1968 ? Alas, disabled retirees were screaming but their "brothers" turned a deaf ear !
The VSF Coalition, Inc. can only support this new legislation, (A-8416), if an amendment is added to halt the exclusion of disabled and vested retirees. If COAAP will not support an amendment, knowing full well the amount of moneys available and how they (Service Retirees) were used by the unions, we can only conclude that some unwarranted jealously was, and is, cause for their failure in conscience. Any inaction by COAAP (service retirees) or the unions, at this time, will ensure the death knell of "Brotherhood" forever! Furthermore, the unions have neglected, again, their "Fiduciary Responsibility" to ALL Retirees. For them to choose sides by supporting one retiree over another, in certain contracts and legislation, while completely abandoning other retiree's requirements of fair and equitable representation and treatment, is unacceptable and contrary to the meaning of unionism.
Additionally, why should the wives and families of the three firefighters killed in a recent Queens explosion be excluded from the VSF ? Why should firefighters, injured in the "line of duty" that fateful day or any day, be excluded from the VSF, if it is determined by the Fire Department that they can no longer perform their job as firefighters ? Is this the reward for sacrifices made in the "Line of Duty" ? Lastly, ask your retiree organization what they have done to stop your exclusion from the VSF ! Put an end to our exclusion and contact your State Representatives by mail, e-mail and phone, now !
The VSF Coalition, Inc.
Has any group or individual asked either the
UFOA or UFA about Assembly Bill (A-8416). As I have stated before, there was
neither a hint or mention of it in the UFA's "Firelines" issue, which
listed their Legislative Agenda.
It was also conspicuously missing from the recent agenda or discussion at the UFOA General Membership Meeting Report forwarded to me. Curiously, it has even been missing in most Retiree Newsletters. Recently, I sent out an e-mail from UFOA President Gorman where he states, proudly, that the PBA, et al actually met in his (UFOA) office in support of this proposed legislation.
The UFA, (Mike Carter), told a handful of retirees, at "the Rock", that UFA President Gallagher would petition the City to undo the 1989 contract, support new legislation and last but not least, that COAAP had in fact been meeting with the UFA in their offices. Now, let me please ask everyone if you think that undoing a contract and supporting legislation to undo a previous law is not important enough to be noted in communications from the PBA, UFA or even the UFOA ? This bill is historical in nature and is of the utmost importance to Service, Disability and Vested retirees. Why all the secrecy ?
Are they playing Service retirees for fools ? Does that have a certain ring ? Will this "familiar" type of legislation linger-on until the year 2007, when it becomes a moot issue ? If the unions are REALLY supporting this bill, why are they keeping it a secret from both the Active & Retired membership ?
For such a monumental issue, I find it incredulous that neither union has been brought to task by asking them these questions in retiree newsletters. This is a repeat of the threatened increase to retirees in the UFA's SBF prescription plan, in the "Firelines", last August. There was not a whisper about fighting it, in retiree newsletters, only reprints of the UFA's article. I wrote immediately to question and protest that increase. Yes, it may finally come but it has been a year since the proclaimed crisis situation.
I will fight any new UFA planned SBF increase, as availability of additional and alternative funds have come in to play and there is no need to hit the retiree with any out-of-pocket increases. Additionally, we were told that we'd be welcome to sit in on CERTAIN parts of UFA retiree SBF meetings.
How many have you been invited to attend ? I'm not sure, exactly, what the UFOA's position was/is on retiree participation.The UFOA, of course, has already forced these increases on their retirees. Oh well ! We can't just sit back and report what is going to be done to retirees, rather we must be prepared to provide our knowledgeable input. I will continue to work WITH the UFA & UFOA, in matters which concern ALL retirees, as long as they're willing to work WITH ALL retirees !
John Gilleeny, Pres.
Man Dies, 4 Injured
In B'klyn House Fire
by Christopher Latham
One man died in an early morning fire in a
Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstone yesterday that sent two other residents and two
firefighters to hospitals with minor injuries, police and Fire Department
Roosevelt Canady, 71, was trapped in a second-floor bedroom at 792 Quincy St. and died in the fire, officials said.
Martha Cooper, 74, who said her family has owned the two-story building for more than 30 years, said Canady had been a tenant for two years.
Firefighters, arriving at 6:55 a.m., pulled Cooper to safety less than a half-hour after the blaze broke out. Her grandson, Lamar Cooper, 22, and his wife, Maleene Vines, also were rescued and taken to Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center for treatment.
Residents on the block called Canady "the lieutenant" because he told them he was a retired Army officer. Neighbors said he was impaired by a limp and poor vision.
A police spokesperson said the fire was caused by Canady smoking, though the Fire Department said it was still under investigation.
Lamar Cooper was treated at Woodhull for a burn on his right arm. He and his wife were released by midday yesterday.
The two injured firefighters were taken to New York Weill Cornell Center, where they were treated for minor burns and released.
Trevor Watts, 52, who lives two houses down, said he saw smoke pouring from the windows and pounded on the front door for more than 20 minutes. Police and firefighters were alerted by others in the neighborhood.
"I kept yelling and banging but no one came to the door," Watts said.
"Thank God the firefighters got here so fast. A few neighbors called them when they heard me downstairs." Linda Yates, 53, was one of those who called the authorities. She said Canady was burned so badly when he was taken from the house that he was barely recognizable.
The building was damaged extensively, with a hole burned in the roof, walls and stairs scorched, and Canady's bedroom blackened. The charred remains of a mattress and an air conditioner had been placed on the curb.
Even so, Martha Cooper said she plans to move back into the brownstone soon.
"It's my home," she said. "Where else am I supposed to stay?"
Bravest Hottest at Hoops
FDNY team wins gold medal
at world cop, fire games
By BILL EGBERT
Daily News Staff Writer
They certainly weren't the tallest, but a
basketball team of New York's Bravest caught fire at the 2001 World Police and
Last month, fire and police personnel from 57 countries gathered in Indianapolis for a week of Olympic-style athletics from archery to softball to the decathlon but the big event is basketball.
Only three teams had ever won the gold medal in hoops in the 16 years the World Police and Fire Games have been around: the Dallas cops, the defending-champion Lithuanian squad; and the perennial favorites the LAPD team, which this year included former Laker Trevor Wilson.
The motley squad known jokingly as the FDNY B Team wasn't supposed to have a chance. Their tallest player was barely as tall as the stubbiest shooters on the powerhouse teams, and they had only practiced casually starting about two months before the World Police and Fire Games.
"We were just out to have fun," said team captain John (Jumbo) Miller, who formed the team on a lark last year from players he knew from the FDNY's Brooklyn basketball league.
Gathering His Forces
Miller, from Ladder 175 in East New York, made the rounds of Brooklyn firefighter hangouts and gathered his forces: Steve Collins, Kevin Coursey, Pat Nash and Keith Long from Engine 281 and Ladder 147 in Flatbush; Will Downey from Ladder 103 in East New York; Kevin Murphy from Engine 257 in Canarsie; Angelo Cozza of Ladder 146 in Williamsburg; Danny Keane from Ladder 234 in Crown Heights; and rookies Brendan Connelly and Jack Bradley, who were rotating through Brooklyn firehouses at the time but later assigned in Harlem and Washington Heights.
Mike Brennan, of Engine 5 in the West Village in Manhattan, was the only team member not working out of Brooklyn at the time.
"And every one of us lives within the five boroughs. I'm proud of that we're all local boys," said Miller, who hails from Queens.
Expectations were low, even among the teammates, when they made the trek to Indianapolis.
"We went out there not expecting anything," said Miller. "We didn't even have a coach."
Ed Burke, a United Firefighters Association representative, was one of the hundreds of New York's Bravest who made the trip to Indianapolis and watched the boys from Brooklyn bring home the gold.
"There were 300 of our guys there," said Miller of the final game against Lithuania. "They turned out for us like it was a home game. I was so proud to be a New York City firefighter."
The gold-medal victory was bittersweet, because teammate Angelo Cozza, a father of five who had been battling cancer for a year and a half, had taken a turn for the worse and had to sit out the tournament back home in New York City.
Miller had exhorted his squad to dedicate their efforts to Cozza at the start of the tournament, and he credits Cozza's inspiration for the heart the team showed when facing down the towering, experienced players on the LAPD and Lithuanian teams to win the gold.
"I called him back in New York after every game," said Miller, who has been close pals with Cozza since college, "and we just kept winning. He was going crazy."
As soon as the team got back to New York, they visited Cozza in the hospital and presented him with one of the gold medals they brought home with them.
"He was really pumped about that," Miller said.
But this dream team faced a nightmare on the weekend of their triumphant return, when three firefighters died and dozens were injured in an explosion and fire in a Queens hardware store on Father's Day, June 17.
"We came back from this thing so high on everything, and that weekend three brother firefighters were killed," said Miller. "That's when reality kicked back in and we remembered what this job is all about. It's about risking your lives every day."
Miller wanted the team to do something for the families of their fallen brethren partly to make a point to the rookies on the team.
"I have the longest time in the department of anybody on the team," said Miller, a 10-year veteran. "Most of the guys are [here] four years or less, and they've never seen anything like that [deadly Astoria fire], but it happens. I wanted them to get the big picture about this job."
So the team raised $1,200 for the union's widows-and-children's charities and passed it on to Burke when they got together to celebrate their victory.
"You gotta keep things in perspective," Miller said.
Those interested in giving to the funds can call the Uniformed Firefighters Association at (212) 683-4832, or send donations to UFA, 204 E. 23rd St., fourth floor, New York, N.Y. 10010.
PBA Wins Round In Fight With City
By BILL FARRELL
Daily News Staff Writer
The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association won
another round in its ongoing court battle with the city regarding the Public
Employment Relations Board's jurisdiction over their contract impasse.
A five-member panel of the Appellate Division upheld a state Supreme Court decision that the 1998 law giving the board jurisdiction over contract disputes between police unions and the city was constitutional.
Attorneys for the city had argued the law, which also affects firefighter and other police unions, violated the home-rule provisions of the state Constitution. It is the city's contention that the city Board of Collective Bargaining has that jurisdiction.
The panel found that the "... Supreme Court correctly observed that accepting the city's contention would create the 'absurdity' of having 'two separate agencies on two different levels of government attempting to separately resolve the intertwined issues of scope of bargaining and impasse resolution.'"
Attorneys for the city said they will appeal.
The case went to the courts late last year when the city filed a "scoping petition" with the Board of Collective Bargaining seeking to have some union demands and provisions of the expired contract declared nonmandatory subjects of collective bargaining.
Under the Public Employment Relations Board, all provisions of the expired contract remain subjects of collective bargaining.
The contract between the city and the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association expired in June of last year.
Re: Legislators Being Lured by Unions
to Undo Previous Contract & Legislation.
Assembly Bill A-8416 seeks to allow FDNY & NYPD (post October 1968) service retirees to collect the current COLA without any offset to their VSF (Defined Benefit) payment. I am against any such legislation unless you correct the wrongful exclusion of disabled retirees.
A- 8416 was proposed by both Fire & Police Unions with encouragement and assistance from COAAP (FDNY Service Retirees). COAAP is the same group, that conspired with the UFA and filed an "Amicus Currae" (Friend of the Court), whose sole purpose was to beg the Courts to keep disability and vested retirees excluded from the VSF (Defined Benefit). COAAP was successful in their effort, along with the City and Unions, in preventing disabled retirees from having Discovery and, therefore, a Trial. The City, unions and COAAP's combined motions effectively precluded disability and vested retirees from having their day in court ! While the disabled and vested retirees were in court, the New York State Legislature literally "took a pass", for years, and waited for the courts to speak.
Unfortunately, for legislators, the Courts simply fell back on "Castellano I " and reiterated that the 1968 Police Contract was "Conspicuously Silent", as to who the beneficiaries of the VSF were and, furthermore, that the N. Y. State Legislature made the exclusion of disabled & vested retirees. Why did our legislators decide to interpret a contract ? Did union officials, after the signed contract, rethink who the beneficiaries could be and decide to lobby legislators for help ? The 1968 "Session Laws", pertaining to firefighters, clearly awarded the VSF benefit to ALL ! In either case, why did the legislature, decide to exclude anyone?
Of course, disability retirees have been trying to get an "Inquiry Bill" passed for many years, to see why the legislature decided to exclude them, but the arm twisting (lobbying) by the City, Unions & COAAP make it a high hurdle to overcome. I humbly thank the Assembly, especially former Assemblywoman Connelly, for passing the "Inquiry Bill", unanimously, during more than one session. I also thank Senator Maltese for having the courage to sponsor the Senate version, sadly blocked by Senate Majority Leaders Marino and Bruno.
Ironically, COAAP would now like to undo a 1989 contract and overturn a current law that prohibits service retirees from collecting the COLA without an offset to the VSF payment. Why has this bill received such quick attention ? Why are the unions lobbying to overturn a Contract and a Law, with "Letters of Support" for service retirees but supplied "Letters in Opposition" to the disabled retiree's "Inquiry Bill" ?
Disability and vested retirees continue to ask for a "No-Cost Inquiry", as to why the Legislature decided to exclude them from participating in the VSF (Defined Benefit). Who would oppose a No-Cost Inquiry ?
It's unthinkable why service retirees and the unions have fought this inquiry. Only those, fearful of the truth, would be against an inquiry. Pass the Inquiry Bill and let the truth set everyone free! Disabled retirees don't have to undo the 1968 contract, as it didn't exclude anyone, until legislation was enacted several years later, which limited the eligible beneficiaries of the fund. Surprisingly, though, it somehow found a way to include Article 1 retirees, who weren't even part of the 1B retirement system (where the moneys originated) and 71 Special Vested Retirees. No other Police or Fire vested retiree is eligible. Why ?
Finally, should the wives and children of the three firefighters killed in a recent Queens explosion be excluded from the VSF ? These deceased members contributed to their pension just as ALL firefighters did ! Why should firefighters, injured in the "line of duty" that fateful day or any day, be excluded from the VSF, solely because the City determines that they can no longer perform their job as firefighters ? Is this a punishment for sacrifices made to life and limb in the "Line of Duty" ? If so, it must be corrected NOW !
Again, I cannot support this new legislation, (A-8416) or any similar Senate Bill, unless an amendment is added to halt the exclusion of disabled and vested retirees. Do you support A- 8416 or any similar Senate version ? Will you support an amendment to halt the exclusion of disability and vested retirees ?
John R. Gilleeny, President
Keystone FDNY Retirees
July 17, 2001
Not Left Hanging -
2 rescued after scaffold collapses
by Bryan Virasami Staff Writer - Newsday
Two construction workers dangled from a safety line 10 stories above the ground yesterday morning after a rope snagged on a passing garbage truck, toppling the scaffold that supported them.
The workers, whose names were not immediately released, were suspended for several minutes. One worker was able to climb into a window, while the second clutched to the safety line for about 10 minutes before firefighters pulled him to the roof of the Manhattan building.
The accident occurred while the workers were trying to lower the scaffold as they were installing a fire escape on a building near 10th Street and Fourth Avenue about 9:15 a.m., said Capt. Joe Downey of Squad 18, a unit trained to conduct rope rescues.
Downey said workers on the ground stopped traffic for a few minutes to lower the scaffold when the garbage truck ignored warnings to wait and plowed through the scene, dragging the rope.
"The truck got impatient and decided to go around them and the ropes they were holding on to caught on the truck, and the truck drove right past them, Downey said. "It ripped the scaffolding from the building, plus the support from the roof came flying off the building.
Downey's crew arrived within minutes and rushed up 10 flights of stairs to the roof to begin the men's rescue. The two men were taken to Bellevue Hospital Center after the incident.
There was confusion yesterday over whether the truck was a city-owned vehicle or from a private hauler.
Police said it was a city Sanitation Department truck, while Sanitation Department spokeswoman Cathy Dawkins said it belonged to a private hauler.
The garbage truck did not stop, witnesses told firefighters. A Police Department spokeswoman couldn't confirm if the driver was being sought last night.
Downey said the rescue was routine, with firefighters using mostly hand signals to communicate with the worker, who did not speak English.
"He didn't say anything during the whole time, Downey said.
Fred R. Conrad/New York Times At Ease:
Engine 53 and Ladder 43 at home in East Harlem.
The nature of the "red devil." as old-timers call fire, may elude many of the younger men
The Senior Guy
By MICHELLE O'DONNELL - NY TIMES
It was a party for Frank Corino and three
others who were celebrating their 10th anniversaries with the Fire Department.
Firefighters who weren't on duty stopped by the East Harlem firehouse of Engine
53 and Ladder 43 at Third Avenue and 102nd Street to offer congratulations. The
smoke of cigarettes and cigars hung in the air. Men told jokes and stories, and
their voices echoed off the cement walls.
A tall man strolled in with the confident gait of a quarterback.
``Hey!'' Voices rose in greeting. ``Kirk! How was Bermuda?''
``Never got off the runway,'' Mr. Lester replied. ``I don't want to talk about it.''
``Did you wear Bermuda shorts every day?'' someone asked. ``How's the beach?''
``Hey,'' Mr. Corino said from his perch on the counter. ``Nice tan.''
Kirk Lester, a 27-year veteran, rolled his eyes.
Within the ebb and flow of the firefighter's life exists a hierarchical world, much like the military: neophyte firefighters fresh out of the academy at the bottom; captains and lieutenants who head each company at the top. In between are those with less seniority, the junior and middle firefighters. Just below the officers on the top of this pyramid is another rank of firefighters whose expertise and experience can surpass that of the officers, and who are often the most respected people in the house. It is an unofficial rank, but one that firefighters take seriously: the senior guy.
Kirk Lester is one of Ladder 43's senior guys. He became a senior guy the way any firefighter does: through proven ability and years on the job.
The East Harlem firehouse has a number of senior firefighters who have worked for decades in the neighborhood of tenements, bodegas and housing projects. (The house is all male. Women make up less than 1 percent of city firefighters.) Senior guys set the tone with their seen-it-all attitudes, their link to the past, when there were so many fires in Harlem and the South Bronx. They are mentors, teaching by example, not only how to fight fire but also how to be a firefighter.
And though their experience often makes them seem larger than life, senior guys are not invincible, as was shown by the death last month of the 27-year- veteran firefighter Harry Ford, in Astoria, Queens.
But in the past decade firefighting has changed from the job that the senior guys knew. The hours are different: firefighters usually work 24-hour shifts, not split shifts the way they used to, when they would finish a tour of duty and spend the afternoon fishing or going to a movie together before returning to work another tour. They were so close back then, old-timers lament. Now firefighters go home after work or straight to their second job. The gear is different, too. When the heavy, flame-resistant pants and coats known as bunker gear became mandatory, a lot of older guys quit. They couldn't feel the heat the way they used to, which was how they gauged a fire's intensity.
Most important, there are fewer fires than in the days when landlords set fire to their buildings to collect insurance money, as did tenants who wanted to move into public housing. Twenty, 30 years ago, firefighters always went home from a busy house smelling of smoke. Alex Hagan, the captain of Ladder 43, who has been a firefighter for 27 years, recalls the early days of his career when he would step out of the shower at his home in Bayside, Queens, after work and the odor of smoke from the Bronx would linger in the steam. All his sheets and towels reeked of fires.
No one expects to see that level of duty again, Captain Hagan said. He estimated it would take a young firefighter 60 years of fighting fires to have the same level of expertise as firefighters did back then. ``And that probably won't happen unless they let us stay on til we're 80,'' he added.
Fires are how firefighters develop their expertise. A safer city may be good for civilians, but it is bad for those who need fires to practice the craft of putting them out safely and efficiently.
All this makes the legacy of the remaining senior guys much harder to maintain. What will the senior guys be like in 30 years, some people wonder. Will they have the same knowledge of fire as today's senior guys, veterans of the conflagrations of the early 1970's? Some firefighters worry that the job is actually becoming more dangerous partly because firefighters are exposed to fewer blazes than in the old days. The nature of the ``red devil,'' as old-timers call fire, eludes many of the younger men.
Yet for all the keening about the way things were, the job continues to morph. As it does, some of the senior guys of 53-43, those who anchor the 60-member firehouse with their experience and expertise, are changing, too. Some wonder how much longer to stick around. They love the job and their colleagues like family. Even for those in no hurry to retire - the adrenaline-driven pace of the job is addictive - time moves on relentlessly. The middle and junior firefighters are waiting to shoulder them aside.
Making Two Tools One: An Invention
Inside the kitchen, an engine man, Ralph Corsini, was explaining to his colleagues his new invention: a way to marry the ax and the Halligan, the tools that they use to open locked doors. Mr. Corsini had welded a loop (patent pending) into the handle of the ax to hold the pointed pick of the Halligan, which has blunted teeth like the back of a giant hammer, to keep the tools from slipping apart when a firefighter is running into a fire. He then wiggled them apart before his captive but critical audience of ladder men.
``They're joined, anyway,'' said Johnny Colon, one of the senior guys on the truck. He stood to try out the device, but he fumbled.
``Turn it around the other way,'' Mr. Corsini suggested. ``Use your left hand.''
The tools separated, but it had taken a few seconds longer than Mr. Colon was used to.
``Yeah, but with smoke conditions and people screaming, that's what you got to think about, Ralph,'' Mr. Colon said.
``You got to drill,'' Mr. Corsini said. ``You got to do it a couple hundred times before it feels comfortable.''
``Ralph,'' Mr. Colon said, with a forceful note in his voice. ``All you need is a piece of Velcro. You just get a big piece of Velcro, wrap it around the handles, and bingo.''
Mr. Corsini was quiet for a moment. ``Yeah, but who's going to save a piece of Velcro when you're running up the stairs in a fire,'' he said finally.
``It's Velcro,'' Mr. Colon said. ``You get more.''
Capt. Kerry Hollywood, the veteran engine officer, sat at the kitchen table, glancing alternately at a hockey game on television and the tools exhibit. His expression suggested that he was highly amused by his men. A few minutes later, he strolled out to the garage. High overhead in the rafters dangled bunker gear that looked brand-new. Helmet, boots, pants, coat, mask, gloves, all roped to a pipe. It was the new kid's stuff. He was a probationary firefighter, one of those 14-week fellows fresh out of the academy who was rotating through the house. He kept leaving his gear on the truck after his tours of duty, and another firefighter had to put it away for him.
It annoyed some younger firefighters that the kid, who had the chance to work in one of the city's best firehouses, kept slipping up. It was a troubling reminder that their lives might depend on someone with little experience on the job.
``Dear Probie,'' the note attached read. ``Treat your gear with a little more respect. It just might save your hide someday.''
How Firefighters Are Made: A Theory
The kitchen fire in the Fifth Avenue apartment near 86th Street wasn't big, but it had whetted Ladder 43's appetite for adventure. After half an hour, they tramped outside, past the doorman, past well-dressed residents clutching small pets. They were punchy with victory and smelled like smoke.
The firefighters swung themselves up onto the rig with the sign ``El Barrio's Bravest'' on top. George Hear - Big George, as his colleagues called him - stood in the street, stepping out of his bunker gear so he could drive. Carefully, he removed his boots and slipped his bare feet into black lace-up shoes.
``Wow, will you take a look at that!'' Captain Hagan said as Mr. Hear climbed into the driver's seat. The driver's gaze followed a petite blonde in sunglasses and high heels.
``Nice,'' Mr. Hear said as he rounded a corner. Like Captain Hagan, Mr. Hear was married, but looking was manly and thus part of being a firefighter.
``Let's get Lotto tickets,'' the captain suggested. He always felt lucky after a fire. ``And, hey, we have to get a copy of Savage Tattoo. Guess who's in it?''
``Who?'' Mr. Hear asked.
``No kidding,'' Mr. Hear replied. Melissa was a heavily tattooed friend of the firefighters.
``Yeah, I ran into her in Penn Station,'' Captain Hagan said.
He was the type of person who could read Savage Tattoo and The Economist with equal relish. He would have been unusual in any walk of life: a thinker in a doer's body. He had graduated from college at 19, went to work as a steamfitter, and became a firefighter a few years later. He was full of theories, on firefighting, poverty, the economy, everything.
One theory had to do with the seductiveness of firefighting - not sexually, he always added quickly, so as not to make his men uncomfortable - but psychologically. It went something like this: Every firefighter wants to be a senior guy. Senior guys are the Chuck Yeagers of the firehouse, the jocks who everybody likes, the capable guys who don't lose their heads in a crisis. A probie, or probationary firefighter, is struck by the senior guys' aura and ease: making jokes, telling stories, deconstructing a fire, commanding respect, all in stark contrast to the probie's grunt life of doing chores and not being allowed in the TV room the first year on the job.
Then it happens: a fire. The probie's first. He is nervous, maybe afraid, definitely excited, but it's all so much more real than the fire academy. He stands in front of a burning building that is maybe 1,500 degrees. He can't imagine going inside. But on his lucky day, a senior guy beckons him over and says, this is how you do it. And the senior guy gets down on his knees and crawls in. The kid follows. They move in, slithering on their bellies where the smoke and flames are lowest, 100 pounds of equipment weighing them down, feeling their way along a wall in complete blackness, into the searing heat.
That, Captain Hagan concluded, is how firefighting is taught.
Brat Packs to Cronies to Middle Guys
Back at the firehouse, George Hear kneaded a giant mound of ground beef in a bowl. On a tray, he formed two long loafs of pinkish meat that resembled the engine and ladder parked out in the garage.
Engine 53 was the shorter of the two rigs, with a pump on top and over a half-mile of hose neatly folded in the back. The engine firefighters put water on a blaze and responded to medical emergencies. Ladder 43 was longer, to accommodate the aerial ladder on top. It was ``the truck,'' the company that ventilated a fire by tearing down roofs, punching out windows and roaming burning buildings searching for victims. Over the years, as the buildings on its watch, many of them public housing, sank into decay, the ladder company increasingly added to its duties the mundane task of opening stuck elevators.
Mr. Hear, the most senior firefighter of the truck and the house, sometimes treated the others to a house favorite, IML's, or individual meatloaves, which meant everybody got an end piece, but tonight it would be traditional meatloaf. Mr. Hear was a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, and when he cooked, it was either meatloaf or pork loin - ``pork lion,'' he called it - which was just fine with the house.
He was mustachioed and good-looking like a weathered Richard Gere, eyebrows like parentheses, but much more strapping and just plain big. At 55, he was also the oldest firefighter in the house, but had no plans to retire. Divorced, he had been single for years, and his long bachelorhood had only enhanced his image, though just a few months ago, he had married his long-time girlfriend, Joy. As he cooked, he thought of her. She was pregnant. For the first time in his life, Mr. Hear was going to be a father.
After dinner, a chief came by the house to talk about a job in Coney Island at which eight firefighters had been badly burned. Everyone gathered around him in the kitchen. When the firefighters had forced the door of the burning high-rise apartment, the visitor said, a gust of wind from an open window had blown flames onto them. Helmets were blown off, heads and ears were scorched. One firefighter lost his gloves, and all the skin on his hands was burned off. A kid just weeks out of the academy was burned, as was a lieutenant. Fire knew no rank.
And yet in the house, seniority mattered, especially for those in the middle, on their way to becoming senior guys. A few years ago the eager-beaver attitudes of two junior firefighters, Matt Long and Pat Ginty, earned them the nickname the Brat Pack. The two used to bustle around the house doing chores and trying to make a good impression.
But their real intention was to make themselves look good by showing up the middle guys. Mr. Long had Brat Pack T-shirts made and gave them to the senior guys. On house watch, he would switch the radio to intercom so the whole house could hear him call the chief of the 10th Battalion: ``Brat Pack to one-oh.'' The chief would respond, ``One-oh,'' driving the middle guys crazy.
Other junior firefighters drifted into the group, and they were called Mr. Long's cronies. Mr. Long, a former accountant from East New York, Brooklyn, was charismatic and had a way of laughing at himself that was infectious. He seized upon the name. Cronies they were.
Now about half the Cronies were married or engaged, and about half had rotated out of the house. Mr. Ginty was now a lieutenant in the Bronx. (When he left, the house held a ceremony to burn the last remaining Brat Pack shirt.) And then there were all the new firefighters at 53-43 who only knew the Cronies as middle guys.
At fires, Mr. Long sometimes looked around and realized that his eight years as a firefighter made him the most senior guy there. Not that he minded that. But there were little things that he did mind. A junior firefighter with his feet up on the desk at house watch, watching television. ``Hey, what are you doing, taking a little nap there?'' Mr. Long asked. The junior firefighter laughed and kept his feet up.
Something New: The Baby Shower
For weeks, the house had been planning Awards Night, an annual event when the house presents prizes to its members for everything from cooking (the Best Meal Award) to slowness (the Turtle Award). This year there was a little surprise: the men of Engine 53 and Ladder 43 were giving their first baby shower.
After the prizes were handed out, Mr. Lester stood up. Over the years, Mr. Lester said, Big George gave everything to being a firefighter. But now he had found the right woman and was ready to settle down. The firefighters cheered. Then they brought out gifts: diapers, wipes and clothes. They included something just for Mr. Hear: earplugs, adult diapers and a T-shirt inscribed, ``Ladder 43 Best Truck Dad.''
Mr. Hear came forward, embarrassed but pleased. Later, he laughed, shaking his head at the thought of him, Big George, having a baby shower. ``Thirty years on the job down the drain,'' he said.
And so time slipped away. Two senior guys prepared to retire. The probies got ready to transfer. And the neighborhood fires, stuck elevators and water leaks continued.
One night, a call came in for a brush fire on Park Avenue. After it was out, Captain Hollywood stood in the smoky air, verifying the code for brush fire with Captain Hagan, who took the opportunity to rattle off all the codes for structural, vehicular, gas, brush and food-on-the-stove fires.
Captain Hollywood grinned. ``My,'' he said as he pondered what he could recite offhand. ``I could tell you Loco's horse, I mean, Pancho's horse was Loco.''
``You have a great capacity for recalling useless information,'' Captain Hagan said. .
``Cis-co, the Cisco Kid,'' Captain Hollywood sang, and Captain Hagan joined in.
Driving back, Captain Hagan noticed the full moon. ``Ah-hooo!'' he howled out the window. His driver, Jimmy Sears, would retire in just a few weeks. Between Captain Hagan and Mr. Sears, half a century of firefighting experience filled the cab of the truck. Like veterans who had once engaged in trench warfare, there would never be another generation of firefighters like them, ones who learned the job by fighting two and three fires a night. Seniors guys would never be quite the same.
``But we keep makin' 'em,'' Captain Hagan said.
Words of Wisdom From a Wise Old Fireman
Being part of a Brotherhood is like being part of a family, you can confide in your brothers and know that it will not go any farther than them if you don't want it to. When you sit down with your brothers you are comfortable to be yourself, without fear of being badmouthed behind your back.
Then there are those who just can't let anyone be part of a group that they are not part of. They are the guys who show up to one or two calls every now and again. They will badmouth you and talk about you, but just ignore them because they will soon find out that they are not as highly thought of as they thought and they will get what is coming to them sooner or later. Above all remember that someone who talks about you behind your back or won't trust you is not your brother and probably can not take the fact that they are just not the best at something.
As I age, I want to pass on the things that I have learned through the years, I hope that you will takethis to heart and go out and be with your Brothers, but beware of false attitudes, you will recognize them.
THE CITY OF
OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
NEW YORK, N.Y. 10007
Dear Fellow City Employee:
I am pleased to announce a new prescription
drug benefit program that will be available to you and your eligible dependents
on July 1, 2001. This new program is provided through the efforts of the
Mayors' Office of Labor Relations and the Municipal Labor Committee.
The new program, known as PICA (Psychotropic, Injectable, Chemotherapy & Asthma), makes these four classes of drugs uniformly available to all employees, non-Medicare retirees and their eligible dependents enrolled in a City health plan.
Effective July 1, 2001, covered medications in these four categories will be provided through the PICA program only, except where otherwise covered under a City-sponsored basic health plan.
There is no payroll deduction for these special benefits, and in some cases, no cost to you for medication at the retail pharmacy or through the mail order program.
Enclosed you will find a new drug card and a comprehensive brochure describing this new program. Also enclosed are answers to frequently asked questions as well as a telephone number for you to call for further information.
I believe that this new program enhances the benefit package of all City employees, retirees and their families. Please take the time to read about this program in the enclosed brochure.
Rudolph W. Giuliani
From a NYC PD
retiree...June 30 2001
I am a disabled (line of duty) NYCPD retiree and recently can across yor web site. Your efforts to get disabled, and other "Non Service" firefighter retirees the VSF is great to see.
I noticed you posted Pete Castellano's letter on Assembly Bill A8416 that would increase benefits ( the COLA offset) to Service retirees, while continuing to deny disabled, pre 68, and vested. I was wondering if you and your group will be taking a stand on this matter yourself.
Thanks for your efforts, and hope to hear from you on this matter.
Don't you just love the term "Service retiree"; Its like those of us permenantly disabled in the line of duty (or otherwise) have not provided a service.
Retired LOD Disabled NYCPD
I am a member of The VSF Coalition, Inc. (FDNY- disability & vested retirees) Of course, we are still in business and will be fighting against A-8416 unless they amend it to include us. We will place a full page ad in CSREA or the Chief (if they'll accept it), soon, expressing our feelings. Thanks for your compliments on my site. Actually, my brother, (retired NYPD) gets the congrats for the site work.
Take care, John
Just received this from Pete Castellano a NY city Police retiree and Friend...FYI
From Pete: This was my first draft and my opinion which I
e-mailed to the :
Speaker of the House the Honorable Assemblyman Sheldon Silvers
I'm asking everyone to do the same in their own way
I advise all retirees to write and send e-mails to:
Majority leader Senator Bruno,
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silvers,
with your objections and concerns of the Present Bill A8416,
It is important because we as individuals are on our own. If we don't do it no one will.
I am not looking to hurt anyone, my sons are eligible to receive this offset if agreed or passed.
It is an very important issue for me, discrimination has to be stopped or the very least recognized.
We as unsung and
forgotten heroes of police and fire departments, some more then others,
and we should not be used to get the unions raises and benefits, then in
When we took these precarious jobs, all of us new the dangers. We knew without warning that the worst possible scenario could take place. We were not in control of this or our fate, so why are we blamed and discriminated against? Why are we as , brothers and sisters, torn apart by politics?
Did we know while risking our lives for our citizens, doing our sworn jobs, that we would the objects of scorn, denials and reprisals?
We knew, we could possibly die but we still applied ourselves and if we got hurt or were downed all brothers would risk their lives to get there to assist us, what has changed?
Is money denied to all disabled/vested/pre-68ers/etc. , the means of getting even for those few charlatans?
Yes we are disabled, some more then others,
but to deny us, who can't work, is immoral.
We can not in all reality be punished for risking our lives-- the public will not stand for this and now with our instant communications through the web, our time has come, and we able to get the TRUTH out instantaneously!.
As said so eloquently by some, we all knew the "Nature of this Beast " when working on two of the most dangerous jobs in the world! We want all to reconsider this prejudicial bill.
Any benefits given to some and not other
because of disabilities is a slap in the face to "JUSTICE and FAIRNESS" but most of for all those
brothers confined to wheelchairs and beds for life.
Where's the "equal" benefits for all active and retired when we all did the same job?
Where's your humanity?
Where's the civility?
We can not be denied the defined benefit, drugs and other health and welfare benefits because it's not only unfair but smacks of prejudice!
We can not sit by and let this happen.
Brothers, you know what I'm trying to say........we must use our families and friends that are behind us to petition the NY legislature to include the ALL retirees in this bill!
Dear Assembly Speaker,
Our group of disabled and vested NYC Police retirees have attempted to correct the wrongful exclusion in receiving the defined benefit, I met with you and your staff many times.
You were helpful in getting through the Assembly the Inquiry Billto look into our exclusion, but only to be denied in the Senate, after many defeats in court and in the legislature. We are again being seriously aggrieved.
Bill A8416 was introduce by your rules committee, to eliminate the offset imposed by contractual and legislation for service police retirees.
Again all over we are being forgotten and discriminated. We have been looking for an amendment to include all retirees and widow and widowers not receiving the defined benefit to be included, we were denied and pushed aside by our unions.
This Bill, A 8416, should be denied the Police and Fire Unions who requested it, their memo in my opinion of their justification to receive same, is misleading, and a attempt to have our pension funds raided even further.
If I am correct this bill will allow the City of NY to received money which they could not get directly get illegally and improperly in violation of our State Constitution, and Federal Tax laws under 401 A.
One test to there justification of there theory, of 60% of final pension was scraped for the VSF benefit., check if 60% was ever granted you would find the VSF or Defined Benefit far exceeds this and there improper justification in my opinion.
You and your fine and Honorable Assemblypersons, and the Senate, awarded a COLA permanently, the Service retirees receive this cola, but its amount is offset by the amount which they receive from their defined benefit. Which was initiated by their unions and passed my legislation l988, and contractual agreement with the City of New York, On behalf of many of disabled and vested retirees firmly object to this bill in its entirety without any consideration of the disabled and vested retiree.
Do not confuse this statement, the present bill, A8416, should be carefully examined by your legal office and I believe you would find it to be as I stated improper and in all probability illegal under our State Constitution and Federal Tax Laws, 401 A.
Dear Retiree, CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR RETIREMENT !
Listed below are all the Retiree Divisions throughout the U.S.A. The United Retired Firefighters Association is the umbrella organization. It is important that you join one of these organizations!
Please call the telephone number of the Division nearest you.
In Friendship & Brotherhood,
The URFA & Associations
|RETIRED MEMBERS ASSN||N.Y.C., NY||516-922-5221|
|STATEN ISL.-FDNY-ASSN.||N.Y.C., NY||718-761-2299|
|FLORIAN ASSN.-FDNY-ASSN.||ROCKLAND CNTY, NY||845-268-7323|
|ORANGE CNTY.-FDNY-ASSN.||ORANGE CNTY, NY||845-496-7914|
|NASSAU CNTY.-FDNY-ASSN.||NASSAU CNTY., NY||516-795-7815|
|SCARF-FDNY-ASSN.||SUFFOLK CNTY., NY||631-724-8135|
|POCONO MOUNTAINS FDNY-ASSN.||POCONO MTNS., PA||570-828-2633|
|KEYSTONE-FDNY-ASSN.||NORTH EAST, PA||570-689-5105|
|PALM BEACH CNTY.-FDNY-ASSN.||LAKE WORTH,FL||561-964-4589|
|GENE OKANE-FDNY-ASSN.||PORT RICHEY, FL||352-597-2799|
|BROWARD COUNTY-FDNY-ASSN.||BROWARD CNTY.,FL||954-753-5228|
|TREASURE COAST-FDNY-ASSN.||VERO BEACH, FL||561-562-7163|
|MARTIN/ST. LUCIE-FDNY-ASSN.||MARTIN/ST. LUCIE, FL||561-879-4697|
|BREVARD COUNTY-FDNY-ASSN.||BREVARD CNTY., FL||321-773-0402|
|PHOENIX ARIZONA-FDNY-ASSN.||PHOENIX, AZ||480-951-8029|
|SUN CITY ARIZONA-FDNY-ASSN.||SUN CITY, AZ||602-972-9241|
|TUCSON ARIZONA-FDNY-ASSN.||TUCSON, AZ||520-544-9536|
|LAS VEGAS-FDNY-ASSN.||LAS VEGAS, NV||702-567-8185|
|SO. CALIFORNIA-FDNY-ASSN||SAN DIEGO, CA||858-481-6659|
|PORT CHARLOTTE||S/W FL||941-575-4003|
UNIVERSAL MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION
(Please call organization nearest your home)
RETIREE ORG. NAME: ____________________________