18 THE QUEENS COURIER • JUNE 24, 2021 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
FDNY marks 20-year anniversary of fatal Father’s
Day Fire with wreath-laying ceremony in Astoria
BY GABRIELE HOLTERMANN
Th e FDNY held a wreath-laying ceremony
on June 16 in memory of fallen
fi refi ghters Harry S. Ford, Brian D. Fahey
and John J. Downing, who were killed on
Father’s Day in 2001 during a fi ve-alarm
fi re at Long Island General Supply Co. on
Dozens of fi refi ghters had responded to
the blaze in 2001 when an explosion in
the basement tore through the two-story
building, killing the veteran fi refi ghters.
Ford, 50, from Rescue 4 and 40-year-old
Downing from Ladder 163 were standing
outside the building when the walls collapsed
and buried them. Fahey, 46, also
with Rescue 4, was inside the building
on the ground fl oor when the fl oors collapsed,
and he fell into the basement.
Th e widows of the fallen fi refi ghters
— Mary Fahey, Denise Ford and
Ann Downing — and their families
attended the June 16 ceremony
alongside members of the FDNY.
Standing with Mary Fahey and
Anne Downing, Denise Ford
expressed their gratitude that the
FDNY had not forgotten the sacrifi
ce their husbands made on that
“Th ey have helped us through
diffi cult times, and we are very
grateful for all that they have
given us,” Denise Ford said. “We are
happy that they are here today and
to continue to show respect to their
In front of the families of the fallen
and about a hundred members of the
FDNY, Fire Commissioner Daniel
Nigro said that Father’s Day was
changed in an instant for the families
of the fallen fi refi ghters when they
didn’t return home that day.
“When a fi re in a hardware store
on this block led to an explosion, it
was a day that broke all of our hearts
with eight children suddenly left
without their beloved fathers,” Nigro
recalled. “Th ey were away from their own
families on duty, protecting others.”
Nigro described John Downing, who had
been with the department for 11 years, as a
professional and as someone who always
made everyone a better person.
He shared that Brian Fahey, who had
been a fi refi ghter for 14 years, was
“Th e Chief ” because he stood out as a
true leader who was constantly learning
and teaching those around him.
Harry Ford, a 27-year veteran with the
FDNY, was cited nine times for bravery,
Nigro said, calling him “an extraordinary
fi refi ghter, renowned for his abilities.”
Nigro explained that the plaque dedicated
to the heroes would be attached to
the new building currently under construction
at the site where the two-story
building once stood.
“Th at plaque will be placed once again
as a permanent tribute to their memory,”
the commissioner said.
Addressing their widows, Nigro
renewed the FDNY’s promise to
always take care of them.
“Mary, Ann, Denise — you
epitomize strength and courage.
You raised wonderful
families, and know that you
and your families will always
be in our hearts,” Nigro said.
Acting Chief of
Richardson said that
Father’s Day is usually
a day of celebration
and the important
play in society.
a very sad loss,”
Richardson said, adding that he hoped
that acknowledging the supreme sacrifice
the three firefighters made 20
years ago would bring comfort to the
widows and their families. “We will
continue to make sure that this story
is told to honor their sacrifice, and the
laying of the wreath today is a symbol
FDNY fi refi ghters salute the fallen fi refi ghters.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro speaks
at the wreath-laying ceremony.
FDNY fi refi ghters stand at attention during the ceremony.
Photos by Gabriele Holtermann
Denise Ford, Anne Downing and Mary Fahey, the widows of the three fi refi ghters who died in the
2001 Father’s Day fi re in Astoria, attend the wreath-laying ceremony on June 16, 2021.