FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2007
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND FIRE COMMISSIONER SCOPPETTA HONOR MEMBERS OF THE FIRE DEPARTMENT WHO HAVE DIED IN THE PAST YEAR
FDNY Marks 100th Year of Honoring Fallen Members at Firefighters Memorial Monument
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta today honored Firefighters Daniel F. Pujdak, Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffagnino and seven other FDNY members who have died in the past year at the 100th Annual Memorial Service at the Firefighters Memorial Monument in Riverside Park in Manhattan. Firefighter Pujdak died from critical injuries sustained while operating at an all-hands fire in Brooklyn on June 21, 2007. Firefighters Beddia and Graffagnino died on August 18, 2007, while battling a seven-alarm high-rise fire at 130 Liberty Street in Lower Manhattan. Mayor Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Scoppetta presented the families of each fallen firefighter with a Fire Department flag and the Fire Department Medal of Valor. A Medal of Supreme Sacrifice from the Uniformed Fire Officers Association and Uniformed Firefighters Association also was presented to each family.
"Today, we honor three extraordinary men who sacrificed their lives for the safety of strangers," said Mayor Bloomberg. "There is never an easy way to express the love and admiration we have for our Bravest. This day of remembrance is just one way to show you that we will never forget. We will always keep the sacrifice of your loved ones in our hearts and minds. The days and months have passed, but the pain of their loss has not subsided. Nor will it ever."
"The Fire Department is built upon its traditions, and one of the most important is to never forget," said Fire Commissioner Scoppetta. "Firefighters Pujdak, Beddia and Graffagnino were willing to give their lives for another, to rush into harm's way without hesitation, and to help those who needed to be helped. Their bravery in the face of danger should not only inspire our members, but any person who may come across someone in need. These three men were not only great firefighters but wonderful human beings. Let their legacy not be confined to this monument but live on in the hearts of every New Yorker so all of us will never forget."
On Thursday, June 21, Firefighter Pujdak, of Ladder Company 146, responded to an all-hands fire in a top-floor apartment at 83 Meserole Street in the East Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. He was operating on the roof of the four-story building when he fell to the ground and sustained critical injuries. He was transported to Bellevue Hospital where he later passed away. Firefighter Pujdak, 23, a resident of Fresh Meadows, Queens, was appointed to the FDNY on September 25, 2005. He is survived by his parents, Leo and Christina, and his brothers, Matthew and David.
On Saturday, August 18, Firefighter Beddia, of Engine Company 24, and Firefighter Graffagnino, of Ladder Company 5, were among firefighters who responded to a high-rise fire at the former Deutsche Bank building at 130 Liberty Street in Lower Manhattan. The two firefighters became trapped in maze-like conditions on the 14th floor of the building, which is currently undergoing demolition. They suffered severe smoke inhalation and were taken to New York Downtown Hospital in cardiac arrest where they later succumbed to their injuries.
A resident of Staten Island, Firefighter Beddia, 53, served 23 years with the FDNY and received three citations for meritorious acts. He is survived by his brothers, James and Edward, and his sisters, Barbara and Susan. A resident of Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, Firefighter Graffagnino, 33, served eight years with the FDNY and is survived by his father, Joseph, mother, Rosemarie, wife, Linda, their two children, Mia and Joseph, and his sisters, Maria and Teresa.
Seven FDNY members who have died in the past year and were honored today are Captain Francis T. Keane, Lieutenant Joseph P. Colleluori Jr. and Firefighters Christopher M. Logan, David Minerly, William R. St. George, and, EMT Lawrence E. Marx and Joseph Cole.
A total of 1,137 members of the New York City Fire Department have made the Supreme Sacrifice in the Department's 143-year history.
The Firefighters Memorial Monument was built in 1912 and is located in Riverside Park at Riverside Drive and 100th Street in Manhattan. It is the largest monument to a single group outside the military. Inscribed on the monument are the words: "To the men of the Fire Department of the City of New York who died at the call of duty, soldiers in a war that never ends. This memorial is dedicated by the people of a grateful City."
The Fire Department Medal of Valor was first issued by the FDNY in 1911 and is engraved with the City seal. Shortly after World War II, the Department began issuing this medal to the next of kin of members who had died in the line-of-duty. Since 1960, the medal has been awarded posthumously and exclusively for line of duty death. The UFOA/UFA Medal of Supreme Sacrifice was first awarded in 1946 and is engraved with the figure of a firefighter carrying a child from a burning building. Since that time, this medal has been given to the next of kin to honor posthumously those Fire Department members who were killed in the line-of-duty.
John Gallagher /Jason Post (212) 788-2958
Francis X. Gribbon (718) 999-2056
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