The Oct. 11 FDNY Annual Memorial Service at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine celebrated the lives of three Firefighters who died in the line of duty and four firefighters and one Emergency Medical Technician who were on the active-duty roster when they passed.
Those who perished in the line of duty included Firefighter Steven Pollard, Ladder Co. 170, who died responding to a motor-vehicle accident; Firefighter Christopher Slutman, Ladder 27, who was killed while on active duty as a Marine in Afghanistan; and Lieut. Brian J. Sullivan, Squad 41, who died of a heart attack after a grueling 24-hour tour of duty.
Other 5 Casualties
The active members who died in the same year included Firefighter Michael J. Reilly, Engine 79; Firefighter Faisal Coto, Engine 245; Firefighter Stephen J. Brady, Engine 84; EMT Adam Vazquez, Bureau of Health Services; and Captain Michael C. Thomas, Division 8.
In his welcoming remarks to the several thousand Firefighters inside and outside the massive gothic cathedral, the Right Rev. Clifton Daniel III sounded more like a local parish priest thanking his local volunteer fire department for saving his church, rather than the dean of the world’s sixth largest church.
Reflecting on the two fires in the landmark church, one this past Palm Sunday, and a more serious six-alarm blaze in 2001, Reverend Daniel said “90 percent of life is just showing up, and twice in the last 20 years some of you, many of you, have shown up here at this Cathedral,” he said. “And I can’t tell you how grateful I am that you did show up.”
He continued, “You put everything out on the line for your fellow citizens you don’t even know, perhaps in a place you have never been before.”
‘No Greater Love’
“The scripture says there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend,” said Mayor de Blasio. “The members of the FDNY go even further….Every one of you puts their lives on the line, not just for a friend, but even for people you have never met. That’s how deep the call of duty is.”
Throughout the service, the speakers directly addressed the surviving relatives of the eight members of the department whose lives were being commemorated.
“We will never forget your loved ones,” vowed Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro. He reminded those assembled that the Annual Memorial Day, which commemorates the 1,553 FDNY lives lost in the 154 years of its history, is the department’s “most important day in the calendar.”
That resonated with attendee Michele Peregrin, a financial analyst for the City Council, who was there to support her significant other, Firefighter Stanley Aviles, who is with Ladder 59.
“It was my birthday and we were going to get away and he had taken all the days off so we could,” she said. “And then this was calendared for today, and so I figured I would come here to support him. He is not just committed to his job; he loves his job.”
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