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PR- 398-08
October 8, 2008


101st Year of Honoring Fallen Members at Firemen’s Memorial Monument

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta today honored Lieutenant John H. Martinson, and 14 other active FDNY members who have died in the past year during the 101st Annual Memorial Service at the Firemen's Memorial Monument at Riverside Park in Manhattan. Lieutenant Martinson died from critical injuries sustained while operating at a second-alarm fire in Brooklyn on January 3, 2008. Mayor Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Scoppetta presented the family of Lieutenant Martinson with a Fire Department flag and the Fire Department Medal of Valor. The family was also presented with a Medal of Supreme Sacrifice from the Uniformed Fire Officers Association and Uniformed Firefighters Association.

"The world we live in may be constantly changing, constantly improving - but we will always be at risk of fire, and we will always depend on brave men and women in the Fire Department to protect us," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Today, we've gathered to pay tribute to fifteen active members of the department who lost their lives over the past year. That includes one firefighter - Lieutenant John Martinson - who died in the line of duty. Lieutenant Martinson was a hero who never gave a second thought about putting himself in harm's way to protect the rest of us."

"For over 100 years, this department has marked the loss of its members on this solemn day," said Fire Commissioner Scoppetta. "Respect and remembrance are vital traditions that each member carries every day on the job. The monument before us today should serve as a symbol of their bravery and heroism to all who pass. Those of us who were lucky enough to know and work beside these individuals will forever be inspired by their actions and spirit."

On January 3rd, Lieutenant Martinson of Engine Company 249 responded to a second-alarm fire on the 14th floor of an apartment building in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. He was part of the first unit of firefighters to race into a burning apartment and was found unconscious a short time later. He was transported to Kings County Hospital, but did not survive his injuries.

A resident of Staten Island, Lieutenant Martinson, 40, served 14 years with the FDNY and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in December 2002. He previously spent four years with the NYPD. He is survived by his wife, Jessica; two children, John Patrick, 2, and Katherine Grace, who is five months old; his mother, Iris; a sister, Lori Tanzi; and a brother, Steven.

Fourteen other FDNY members who died in the past year and were honored today are: Battalion Chief James J. Savastano Jr., EMS Lieutenant Brian Ellicott, Supervisor Fire Marshal Douglas Mercereau, Captain Steven R. Jaeger, Firefighters Sean McCarthy, Martin C. Simmons, Kevin Meehan, David Clark, Timothy P. Killarney and Roger T. Peterson as well as EMTs Jason Ruiz, Pamela Walch, Albert Silva Decruz III and David Mangaran.

A total of 1,138 members of the New York City Fire Department have made the supreme sacrifice in the Department's 144-year history, saving countless lives. Last year, the Fire Department responded to almost half a million incidents and extinguished nearly fifty thousand fires. Since 2002, there have been fewer civilian fire fatalities than any previous six-year period.

The Firemen's 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.


Stu Loeser/Jason Post   (212) 788-2958

Francis X. Gribbon   (718) 999-2056

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