FDNY and Metal Drumming Hero William Tolley Honored with Queens Street Renaming

NY Daily News - September 27, 2018

by BYRON SMITH and LARRY MCSHANE

Firefighter William Tolley rolled like a rock star — both on and off the job. The FDNY veteran, killed in a freak five-story fall while working a Queens apartment fire in April 2017, was honored Wednesday at a street-naming ceremony attended by his brothers from both Engine 286/Ladder 135 and the influential death metal band Internal Bleeding.

“We’re ensuring that this mentor, leader and yes, rock star’s name and memory will forever be a part of the firehouse he loved and this neighborhood he greatly served,” said FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro.

The street alongside the Glendale firehouse was rechristened for Tolley, 42, a 14-year FDNY veteran and a renowned drummer with his band. The married firefighter left behind wife Marie, daughter Bella and a group of devoted hard rock fans.

“Three things he truly loved: His family, the FDNY and his band,” said Mayor de Blasio. “I don’t think we’ve ever seen a man like that before, and I’m not sure we’ll see one again.” Guitarist Chris McCarthy, representing their band, recalled how Tolley retained his firefighter’s instincts even while sitting on a stage behind his drum kit.

“I think more than even being in a heavy metal band, he loved being a firefighter,” said McCarthy. “Everywhere he would go, he’d look up at the ceiling of a club and say, ‘This place doesn’t have the proper egress.’

“This is unbelievably beautiful,” he continued. “It’s awesome that they’re taking the time to realize his impact on the city and beyond.”

Tolley started his career as a Hicksville, L.I., volunteer firefighter, and turned up to help at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks. His life’s priorities made Holley the rare hardcore rocker seen driving a minivan with a baby seat in its back — when not out fighting fires.

Widow Marie Tolley recalled her husband’s devotion to the FDNY, and offered a heartfelt thank you to all those who came to the family’s aid after the tragedy. And she said her husband would appreciate the outpouring of love at the ceremony.

“I know he’s up there smiling,” she said. “There really are no words to explain how much everything has meant to us.”