BY STEVE DUNLEAVY 2-10-05
“…..and again, you keep on thinking over and over, this wonderful life could have been saved but for a lousy piece of rope….”
RELICS OF A HERO: Jeanette Meyran, with FDNY friend Marty Curran yesterday, holds pieces of a metal guard from the window that her firefighter hubby, Curtis, leaped through.
N.Y. Post: Jim Alcorn
February 10, 2005 — WITH heavy heart and tear- filled eyes, Jeanette Meyran slowly walked up 70 steps to the fourth floor of 236 E. 178th St. in The Bronx yesterday to relive the last seconds of her hero husband’s life.
“This is the way we’re going to get out, boys,” were the last words Lt. Curtis Meyran said before he plunged 50 feet to his death on “Black Sunday,” Jan. 23 when three firefighters died in two separate locations, and four were critically injured.
“He was the general. He led the way. He wouldn’t ask his men to do something he wouldn’t do,” Jeanette said, her voice choking.
She looked out the fourth-floor window from which her husband plummeted and banged her hands in frustration against the metal window guards.
Marty Curran, a firefighter and good friend of her husband’s, tore off three pieces of metal from the burned guards and gave them to her.
“These are for each of my children so they will know how their father died,” she said.
“He was so brave, so brave, they were all so brave on that very, very bad day. I’m honored to know these gentlemen.
“I wanted to touch the last things he touched. I wanted to walk in the same steps he walked.
“Curt always said to me that something is very wrong if I don’t come home. Well, I wanted to see for myself what went wrong. There is no good reason why he had to die.”
Then came the anger a simple rope could have changed everything.
Neither Meyran nor fellow firefighter John Bellew, who also died after jumping from the inferno, were equipped with a rope.
“The life-or-death option was taken away from him because [the city] wouldn’t pay for lifesaving ropes. Compare that to the cost of how many widows they are going to pay for,” she said. “Yes, I did see things up there that the men could have tied a rope to but, once again, not an option. I’m going to fight to make sure he and his fellow firefighters did not die in vain, that no other firefighter will die like that,” she vowed. “No, there is no closure for me. But I want to make sure he did not die in vain.” Jeanette was wearing her husband’s uniform shirt and commemorative 9/11 medal. He had left the shirt for her to wash and she hasn’t had the heart to launder it since his death, and she never will. “The odds were 1,000 percent against Curt. He would have wanted me to come here to see for myself. I had to come here,” she said. “I had the privilege to know him for 23 years and was married to him for 18 years.
“When young Brendan [Cawley, one of the firefighters who was injured] told me how calm Curt was during the whole thing, it didn’t surprise me.” Cawley told me the day after he got out of the hospital that Meyran’s leadership helped save his life. “Despite everything, he was very calm and quietly gave instructions to us,” Cawley said. “There were a lot of gentlemen up there that day, nothing crazy.” Cawley’s recovery has been amazing. But he’s suffered emotionally. Jeanette said, “I told him ‘Please, no guilt because you survived.’ ” Cawley’s brother Michael perished in the 9/11 catastrophe, she noted. “I’m grieving for my husband, but I’m glad [Brendan] was safe. No mother deserves to lose two sons that way,” said Jeanette. “And it didn’t surprise me that Curt led the way. And those last words that was the kind of man he was. “But I still want to ask the city about cutbacks and ask them who is going to walk my daughter down the aisle.” She recalled how on that awful Sunday, she was greeted at the hospital by Mayor Bloomberg and realized the worst had happened.
“At first, I thought because he wasn’t in the burn unit that he may be just banged up. But when I saw the mayor, I knew,” she recalled. “The mayor said, ‘He died for the city.’ I don’t know what I said at the time, but I think now he should start changing his lines.” Jeanette was asked what she had gathered from the scene. “Even apart from the fire damage, the place was filthy. There were walls everywhere,” she said. Those were the illegal partition walls that trapped the men. “It was pure greed that put up those walls, pure greed,” she said.
Jeanette leaned against the shoulder of Curran. She hugged members of Engine 83, who were on standby watch at the fire scene. “I tell you, this is one great brotherhood. I wish I were a fireman.” Again, the words of a fire widow slash at your heart. And again, you keep on thinking over and over, this wonderful life could have been saved but for a lousy piece of rope.