Fallen FDNY Chief Made ‘Supreme Sacrifice’

The Wall Street Journal - September 29, 2016

by Kate King

Grief-stricken firefighters hugged at the 19th Battalion firehouse in the Bronx and prepared to hang purple and black bunting in honor of their chief, Michael Fahy, who was killed by flying debris from a house explosion Tuesday morning. Chief Fahy, 44 years old, had served the Fire Department of New York for 17 years and was a married father of three young children. His own father had served 33 years in the FDNY before retiring in 2001 as a battalion chief.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that he met with Chief Fahy’s wife and parents at New York-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital, where Chief Fahy was taken after the explosion and pronounced dead.

Chief Fahy’s family is going through “unspeakable pain,” the mayor said.

Speaking outside the firehouse, Jake Lemonda, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, said Chief Fahy “performed the supreme sacrifice in giving his life to protecting the lives and property of the citizens of New York.”

Chief Fahy lived with his family in a quiet neighborhood in Yonkers. A crowd of mourners stood on the front lawn of the family home Tuesday afternoon. A woman who answered the phone at Chief Fahy’s home said, “You know, we’re devastated,” before hanging up. Neighbors said they weren’t speaking to the media, “out of respect for the family.”

Chief Fahy graduated from New York Law School in 1998 and was a member of the New York and New Jersey state bars, according to his LinkedIn page. He joined the FDNY in 1999, working first as a firefighter in East Harlem before rising through the ranks. He grew up in Rockland County, N.Y., and was a 1990 graduate of North Rockland High School, where he played varsity soccer, said Ileana Eckert, superintendent of the North Rockland Central School District.

“His kindness and sense of humor will be forever missed,” Ms. Eckert said in a statement.

Chief Fahy was responding to a call for a possible gas leak at a Bronx home and directing an evacuation of nearby buildings when the house exploded Tuesday, officials said.

—Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed to this article.