Woodside Firehouse Honors Its Fallen

By William Murphy

June 14, 2003

About 200 firefighters, their families and friends attended a memorial Mass Friday morning in Woodside for the 21 firefighters assigned to Rescue 4 and Engine 292 who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

The Mass was just two days before Rescue 4 will honor the two members who lost their lives in the Father's Day fire of June 2001. A firefighter from a nearby engine company also was killed in that fire and explosion.

In a ceremony scheduled for Sunday, the city will rename a corner in Astoria for firefighters Harry Ford and Brian Fahey of Rescue 4 and firefighter John Downing of Ladder 163. All the units are based in Woodside.

During Friday's mass at St. Mary's Help of Christians, Lt. Tim Kelly of Rescue 4 went to the pulpit and asked for prayers for all the firefighters who have died from Rescue 4 and Engine 292, which share a common house on Queens Boulevard.

"We pray for the family members whose remains have not been recovered," Kelly said. The congregation replied with the traditional: "Lord hear our prayer."

Kelly then read the 21 names of the firefighters from his house who have died in the line of duty over the years, including two from the Father's Day fire, nine who rode on the rescue rig on Sept. 11, 2001, and two who were killed in combat in World War II.

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta left the service early to attend a funeral in Rockland County for Capt. Vernon Richard of Ladder 7 in Manhattan, whose remains were recently identified by DNA testing.

On Wednesday the city's medical officer informed members of Rescue 4 that a fragment of bone from their commanding officer, Capt. Brian Hickey of Bethpage, had been identified.

He was the duty officer at the Father's Day fire. Three months later, on his third shift back after recovering from his injuries, he was killed at the World Trade Center while filling in for a vacancy at another fire company.