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NYC Firefighter Dies in Fall while Extinguishing Apartment Fire

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By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest

A New York City firefighter fell five stories to his death Thursday afternoon while responding to a small apartment building fire, the New York Post reported.

While his fellow firefighters battled a two-alarm fire on the second floor of an apartment building in the borough of Queens, firefighter William Tolley was lifted to the roof in a ladder bucket. Tolley intended to ventilate the roof, allowing smoke and hot gases to escape.

According to witnesses, Tolley was in the bucket one moment, suspended near the roof parapet. In the next moment, he was plummeting to the street, the New York Times said.

"He was done inspecting the building, the ladder was coming back, but then it jerked. He fell face down,” an eyewitness told the Post. “We were all in shock. I think he was in shock, too, because he didn’t even scream when he was falling.”

FDNY Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Tolley was performing a “routine operation.” Nigro blamed the fire on incense that was left burning and unattended.

The Fire Department and federal officials are investigating the accident, a process that could take months, the Times said.

The Bellevue Hospital medical examiner concluded that Tolley died of multiple blunt-force injuries.

“Compounding the tragic loss of Firefighter Tolley’s life is that the fire he responded to and fought bravely could have been prevented,” Nigro said. “You should not leave objects such as incense or candles burning while unattended."

More than 50 fellow firefighters lined up outside Bellevue Hospital on Friday to watch Tolley’s casket, draped in an American flag, being loaded into an ambulance. The casket was transported to a Long Island funeral home.

Firefighters hung black and purple mourning bunting outside Tolley's station, Engine Company 286/Ladder Company 135 in the Ridgewood section of Queens.

The 14-year FDNY veteran left behind wife Marie and 8-year-old daughter Bella.

About the Author

David E. Hubler brings a variety of government, journalism and teaching experience to his position as a Quality Assurance Editor at APUS. David’s professional background includes serving as a senior editor at CIA and the Voice of America. He has also been a managing editor for several business-to-business and business-to-government publishing companies. David has taught high school English in Connecticut and at Northern Virginia Community College. He has a master’s degree for Teachers of English from the University of New Hampshire and a B.A. in English from New York University. David’s 2015 book, “The Nats and the Grays, How Baseball in the Nation’s Capital Survived WWII and Changed the Game Forever,” has just been published in paperback by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

David Hubler David E. Hubler brings a variety of government, journalism and teaching experience to his position as a Quality Assurance Editor at APUS. David’s professional background includes serving as a senior editor at CIA and the Voice of America. He has also been a managing editor for several business-to-business and business-to-government publishing companies. David has taught high school English in Connecticut and at Northern Virginia Community College. He has a master’s degree for Teachers of English from the University of New Hampshire and a B.A. in English from New York University. In March 2017, Rowman & Littlefield published the paperback edition of David’s latest book, "The Nats and the Grays, How Baseball in the Nation's Capital Survived WWII and Changed the Game Forever."