The FDNY honored three fallen firefighters with a new rig yesterday as their loved ones marked the five-year anniversary of a fatal Father’s Day blaze in Queens that claimed the lives of “the best of the Bravest.”
“It’s a painful remembrance,” said Denise Ford, whose husband Harry, 50, of Rescue 4, was killed in the five-alarm inferno in Astoria. The others who died in the fire were Rescue 4 colleague Brian Fahey, 46, and Ladder 163 firefighter John Downing, 40.
“We will never celebrate Father’s Day again,” Ford said.
More than 300 people showed up at St. Sebastian’s Church in Woodside to remember the fallen heroes as the department surprised the three widows in attendance with a new Rescue 4 firetruck dedicated to the memories of Ford, Fahey and Downing.
“The tools we are putting on the rig will save many lives for years to come,” said acting FDNY Chief of Department Salvatore Cassano. “I couldn’t think of a more fitting tribute for these three men.”
The three firemen were killed in a deadly 2001 blaze in an Astoria Boulevard hardware store. Eight children were left without dads, and scores of rescue workers were injured.
In the weeks after the Father’s Day tragedy, The Post helped raise more than $1.6 million for the lost men’s families.
The fire started when a 13-year-old boy looking for spray paint accidentally knocked over a can of gasoline.
When the firefighters stormed the building, thinners, paints and other flammable materials in the store blew up, sending an external wall tumbling on top of Ford and Downing. Fahey was killed after the floor beneath him gave way.
“They will be remembered as the best of the Bravest,” said Lt. Larry Archer of Rescue 4.
The families returned to the scene after the memorial Mass to have a moment of silence at the scene of the devastating calamity, an intersection that has since been renamed for the men. Downing was posthumously promoted to lieutenant this week.
“It goes to show, they keep us in their hearts and will never forget out husbands,” Denise Ford said, as they rolled out the truck bought with a Homeland Security grant.
By JOHN DOYLE and PATRICK GALLAHUE