Tragic Bond of New York Brothers

One of the Bravest fighting for his life after yesterday's Bronx blaze is a 31-year-old hero who joined the FDNY after his brother died on 9/11.


January 24, 2005 -- One of the Bravest fighting for his life after yesterday's Bronx blaze is a 31-year-old hero who joined the FDNY after his brother died on 9/11.

"When I was a kid, he used to tell me that I had to be a firefighter," Brendan Cawley had said of his brother, Michael, after the terror attacks. "When I asked him why, he told me it was because being a firefighter was the greatest job in the world."

Cawley was in serious condition after leaping from a burning building on East 178th Street where he and five comrades were searching for trapped occupants.

"Brendan is brand new, but he has a tremendous attitude," said his battalion chief, John Sullivan.

The three heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in The Bronx blaze and another in Brooklyn were:

  • Lt. Curtis Meyran, a 15-year veteran, who died after jumping from the fourth floor window at East 178th Street.

    Twice decorated for bravery - in 1991 while working at Ladder Co. 161 in Coney Island and in 1997 while assigned to Ladder Co. 123 in Crown Heights - Meyran, 46, had become a lieutenant two years ago.

    "He was a great leader and great firehouse guy," said one colleague.

    Meyran of Malverne, L.I. is survived by his wife of 18 years, Jeanette, and three children, Dennis, 16, Angela, 10, and Dineen, 5.

    His brother described him as a "fun-filled guy" and "devoted family man," who had just returned from visiting his mother, 85.

    "He had a life ahead of him," said Glenn Meyran.

  • Firefighter John Bellew, who died alongside Meyran joined the FDNY in 1994.

    He had worked at Manhattan's Ladder Co. 10 and Engine Co. 23 before moving to Ladder Co. 27 in The Bronx, where his devastated colleagues called him a great sportsman and friend.

    "John was a great guy and a real family man. He was always there for everyone," said Lt. Mark McKay.

    Bellew lived with his wife, Eileen, 35, and their four young children, Brielle, 6, Jack, 3, Katreana, 2, and 4-month-old Kieran, in upstate Pearl River.

    "He loved his wife and family so much," said his brother, Danny.

  • Firefighter Richard Sclafani of Ladder Co. 103 died in a separate blaze in Brooklyn. Sclafani, 37, was a 10-year veteran. He is survived by his mother, Joan, and sister, Joanne.

    Critically injured in the Bronx blaze were:

  • Joseph DiBernardo of Rescue Co. 3, who was in serious condition with two broken legs, a broken pelvis and head injuries.

    A neighbor on Long Island said he became a firefighter to follow in the footsteps of his father, a retired battalion chief.

    Another said DiBernardo is a volunteer with the Setauket firehouse.

  • His fellow Rescue 3 firefighter, Jeffrey Cool, was in a critical but stable condition with a broken pelvis and fractured skull.

    The 12-year veteran and father of two is due to get a medal this year after daring rescue at a Bronx fire in August, where he dangled from a rope and lowered a man to safety.

    "I've always told him you're my hero," said his wife of 10 years, Jill. "He'll pull through, I know he will."

  • Also battling injuries is Eugene Stolowski, of upstate Florida, who runs the commissary in the Ladder 27 firehouse and works other jobs to support his family.

    Stolowski is the father of a 3-year-old daughter and his wife is expecting twins, said her sister.