Fallen Bravest an Inspiration

NY Daily News - November 11, 2009

by Jonathon Lemire

His Legacy Will Live On Where He Drew His Last Breath.

Probationary firefighter Jamel Sears, who collapsed and died a year ago during a training exercise, was honored yesterday with a memorial plaque at the FDNY's training academy.

"Jamel would have been a great firefighter" said Chief of Department Salvatore Casano, "and now he will inspire future firefighters for generations to come."

Sears, 33 died last Nov. 11 due to dehydration and a previously undiscovered plaque buildup in his heart's arteries , occording to an autopsy.

A Navy veteran and father of two, Sears had long dreamed of becoming a firefighter, according to his probie classmates who turned out in full for the Randalls Island dedication ceremony.

"This is what he wanted to do and he inspired the rest of us," said Firefighter Roy Ciofalo, 26, who is now assigned to Engine 23 on the upper West Side.

"He was a calm, collected guy who I looked up too," said Ciofalo, who saved the academy locker-room nameplate with Sears' nme on it. "He never gave up."

Sears' widow, who intends to sue the city and the Fire Department in a $10 million wrongful death suit, did not attend the ceremony, but the fallen firefighter's mother received a tribute from a grateful Mayor Bloomberg.

"His short career showed us exactly the kind of firefighter he was going to be," said Bloomberg. "He was dedicated, thoughtful, strong and brave."