FDNY's Michael Fahy Posthumously Promoted; Wake Held

Journal News - October 01, 2016

by Christopher J. Eberhart

As New York City fire department colleagues, family and friends attend the wake for Michael Fahy of Yonkers today, city officials announced he has been posthumously promoted to the rank of Deputy Chief. The title is the highest civil service promotional achievement in the FDNY, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said in a statement.

Fahy, 44, a 17-year veteran of the Department, passed the exam for deputy chief in 2013 had been on the list for promotion to that title, they said.

He was killed Tuesday morning while serving as a battalion chief in the Bronx, directing the response to a suspected gas leak at a home in the Kingsbridge neighborhood. Investigators are looking at whether the property was being used as a marijuana "grow house" and have arrested two people they say are connected to the case.

One of the two suspects, Julio Salcedo Contrer, waived extradition during a New Jersey court hearing on Thursday and was expected to be returned to New York shortly to face charges. The other, Garivaldi Castillo, was taken into custody Wednesday in New York City on felony marijuana possession charges.

Fahy lived in the Crestwood section of Yonkers with his wife and three young children. He was Rockland County native and 1990 graduate of North Rockland High School who initially pursued a law career but switched to the FDNY, where his father had also served as a chief.

The FDNY said he joined the department in 1999 and had worked in Harlem and Manhattan as well as at several stations in the Bronx during his career. Fahy is the first FDNY member killed on the job in more than two years and the highest-ranking member of the department to die in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001.

Three days of mourning are beginning today in Westchester for Fahy, starting with his wake today and tomorrow from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at Flower Funeral Home at 714 Yonkers Avenue in Yonkers.

A large line waited to get into the funeral home Thursday afternoon, channeled by metal gates employed as dividers. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke to some of the firefighters outside the funeral home. A large group of uniformed firefighters stood chatting in a nearby parking lot, creating a sea of dark blue uniforms.

One of the mourners, retired FDNY captain Stephen Damato, said he trained Fahy when he was a probationary firefighter.

"There's a lot of things you want to instill in young firefighters," he said. "They learn a lot of skills. But there's other things. There's the heart of a firefighter so you think like a firefighter. It's something that oozes out of you. And Mike Fahy had that."

"He was quiet but he was sharp. He always had that smile on his face and he made coming to work a joy," he added.

Another retired firefighter, Mike O'Keeffe, said he didn't know Fahy personally but came to the wake for support.

"It's a tribute to Chief Fahy to see this kind of turnout but that's how firefighters are," he said. "Even if we didn't know him, we feel a part of his family and we feel his family's loss.

Anticipating a large crowd, Yonkers police banned parking on both sides of Yonkers Avenue from Page Avenue to Seminary Avenue, and on the northern section of Orient Street one half block from Yonkers Avenue. Yonkers Avenue will have one lane open for vehicular traffic from Page Avenue to St. Johns Church. Orient Street will be closed to vehicular traffic from Clark Street to Yonkers Avenue.

The city police department is encouraging those planning to attend the wake to park at Empire City Casino at 810 Yonkers Avenue, approximately four blocks east of Flower Funeral Home.

Fahy's funeral Mass is set for Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Church of the Annunciation at 470 Westchester Avenue in Crestwood.

Journal News reporter Steve Lieberman contributed to this report.