Pay Tribute to 12 Fallen Members of Fire Dept.

Chief Leader - October 13, 2009

by ARI PAUL

3 Line-Of-Duty Deaths

The Fire Department Oct. 7 honored its 12 members who died in the past year during its 102nd annual Memorial Day.

Held at St. John the Divine Cathedral on the Upper West Side instead of at the Fire Memorial in Riverside Park due to high winds, the ceremony highlighted the three firefighters who died in the line of duty.

Training Death, Cave-In, Stroke

First was Probationary Firefighter Jamel Sears, who died Nov. 11 of heart failure while in training at the Fire Academy. Lieut. Robert Ryan was leading the members of Engine Co. 155 into a burning building in the New Brighton section of Staten Island Nov. 23 and was helping to stretch a hose line on the second floor of the house when the attic collapsed on him, dislodging his mask and air supply. Firefighter Paul Warhola of Engine Co. 221 in Williamsburg died Aug. 14 at Bellevue Hospital as a result of a stroke he suffered earlier that week while responding to a fire alarm.

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta presented the widows with FDNY flags, as per tradition. Mr. Sears' widow, Sherita, has a wrongful death lawsuit pending against the city, but the state Labor Department has found that the FDNY did not violate occupational safety and health codes in the exercises Mr. Sears was performing when he died.

Mayor Bloomberg recognized Mr. Sears in his address, noting that members of his class were now active members in companies throughout the city.

"I'm sure he'll be watching over them the way he'll be watching over his family," he said.

Others Honored

The department recognized the members who were stricken while off-duty. Emergency Medical Technician Ruby Greaves died of a stroke June 29. Chief of Department Salvatore Cassano explained that she was in- spired to join the department after her two daughters died in a fire.

"She became an EMT, and a good one," he said.

He also mentioned Firefighter Salvatore Scarentino, who died March 21 after completing a 24-hour tour, and Firefighter John McNamara, who died of cancer Aug. 9. He was heralded by department members for participating in the rescue and recovery effort at Ground Zero.

Also honored were Firefighters Thomas Orlando, Christopher Velez, John Kelly and Timothy Lockwood, Paramedic Clyde Sealy, and EMT Wendell O'Brien.

Commissioner Scoppetta, addressing the crowd, said, "They were-and you are-soldiers in a war that never ends."