For the past eight years, Brian Fahey has taught every volunteer firefighter in Nassau County how to tame fires and how to survive them.
He taught them how to stay low, how to avoid getting lost, and how to keep an ear tuned to the hisses, bursts or pops that signal trouble. But no preparation or training could have equipped Fahey for the fire he walked into Sunday.
"There's nothing you could ever teach that could prepare a firefighter for what Brian faced,” said Michael K. Gilroy, executive director of the Nassau County Fire Services Academy. "This wasn't a tough circumstance. This was an impossible one.”
Fahey, 46, of East Rockaway, was one of the three New York City firefighters killed during a Father's Day blaze in Astoria after the floor collapsed, plunging him into a basement and trapping him.
"Most of his instructions were on safety, and it is ironic that he ends up passing away this way,” said Dept. Chief John Brown of the Nassau County Fire Service Academy. "There's no doubt in my mind that if there was any way of getting out of there, Brian would have done it. Brian was a very smart firefighter.”
Friends and co-workers said two things defined Fahey: his family and fighting fires. The former brought new meaning to his life after he married his wife, Mary, about 10 years ago. The couple had three sons, Brandon, 8, and twins Patrick and James, 3. Neighbors said Fahey often biked with Brandon, took him to sporting events and coached his Little League baseball team.
"You hear about it, but you can't believe it,” said one neighbor who asked that her name not be used. "It can't be Brian because he's too strong. He's too smart. You just saw him as a picture of health.”
Somber-faced firefighters stood guard around Fahey's East Rockaway house yesterday, shooing away reporters and greeting visitors. The family declined to comment.
Fahey, a cigar-smoking Irish-American nicknamed "Chubby,” was considered a guru among firefighters. He had spent 14 years with the New York Fire Department and was assigned to Rescue Co. 4 in Queens, an elite group that specializes in rescuing trapped victims, fire officials said.
"I personally transferred there just so I could work with him,” said Durrell Pearsall, who worked with Fahey in the city and as a volunteer in Hempstead. "He taught me everything I know.”
Fahey joined the Hempstead Volunteer Fire Department in 1974, and worked his way up to chief, a position he held from 1979 to 1983. Three years later, he began teaching a course on the essentials of firefighting to new recruits in Hempstead.
"Every firefighter we have now has sat through Brian's eight-week class,” said Hempstead Third Assistant Chief George Sandas, Jim Sandas' brother. "He was always looking for new ways to teach the volunteers to keep themselves safe.”
In 1993, he began a job as a Second Deputy Chief instructor at the Nassau Fire Services Academy, the countywide training ground for new recruits. His course specialized in rescuing people from confined spaces and in removing victims from cars.
"He loved taking all of the talent he had to offer and giving it to anyone who asked for it,” Brown said. "He's going to be missed dearly here. It's going to be a void that we won't be able to fill for a long time.”
Gilroy said Fahey's death puts into perspective the dangers of firefighting.
"There will always be the unknown, no matter how much training you have,” Gilroy said. "That unknown factor ... is what takes a firefighter's life.”
Jim Sandas, Fahey's best friend since third grade and the best man at his wedding, was there to pull his body out of the basement Sunday night. Both men belonged to New York City Fire Department rescue units.
"I just felt it was right to be there,” Sandas said yesterday. "There was nobody that was going to tell me not to.”
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06-19-2001, 10:26 AM #1LavertyFirehouse.com Guest
Brian Fahey-Husband,Father,Fireman & Teacher
06-16-2011, 12:59 PM #2
NEVER FORGET 10 years
http://www.firehouse.com/forums/showthread.php?t=25658 (Multi FDNY LODD - Sunday, June 17, 2001)
FATHER’S DAY FIRE – 10TH ANNIVERSARY MEMORIAL MASS
The officers and members of R-4 and L-163 will be celebrating a 10th Anniversary Memorial Mass honoring Fireman Harry S. Ford, R-4, Fireman Brian D. Fahey, R-4, and Fireman John J. Downing, L-163, who made the supreme sacrifice on June 17, 2001 at the “Father’s Day Fire”. The Mass will take place at 1030 hours, Saturday, June 18, 2011, at St. Sebastian’s Church, 58-02 Roosevelt Ave., Woodside, NY. All off-duty members and their families are invited to attend as a mark of respect to the deceased. Members are requested to attend in dress uniform.ALL GAVE SOME BUT SOME GAVE ALL
NEVER FORGET 9-11-01
CAPT. Frank Callahan Ladder 35 *
LT. John Ginley Engine 40
FF. Bruce Gary Engine 40
FF. Jimmy Giberson Ladder 35
FF. Michael Otten Ladder 35 *
FF. Steve Mercado Engine 40 *
FF. Kevin Bracken Engine 40 *
FF. Vincent Morello Ladder 35
FF. Michael Roberts Ladder 35 *
FF. Michael Lynch Engine 40
FF. Michael Dauria Engine 40
"If my job was easy a cop would be doing it."
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