FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 7, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG SPEAKS AT 102ND ANNUAL FDNY MEMORIAL SERVICE
The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg's remarks as prepared
"Commissioner Scoppetta, Chief Cassano, members of the Department, friends and family of the FDNY, and especially the family members of FDNY Lieutenant Robert J. Ryan, Jr.; Firefighter Jamel M. Sears; and Firefighter Paul Warhola: Good morning.
"I've just come from paying my respects to another member of our uniformed services who, sadly, died in the line of duty last week: Sanitation Worker Richard Timmins.
"I arrive here with a heavy heart, but it is lifted by the knowledge that the firefighters we're honoring today lived full and meaningful lives, defined by service, bravery, and devotion to family and friends.
"And they died doing something they loved and believed in.
"Every time we walk past this Firemen's Monument, we can't help but feel blessed by the commitment and courage of our city's Firefighters. Bishop Potter, who first called for this monument's creation at the funeral service of a Deputy Fire Chief in 1908, put it this way: 'The fireman gives his services unselfishly, and yes, audaciously, and with the highest of chivalry.'
"New York City is only as strong as the men and women willing to protect it. And by that measure, we are very strong indeed. Over the last 144 years, firefighters have responded to millions of emergencies.
"And today, the FDNY is doing its job better than ever: We've experienced fewer than 100 civilian fire fatalities per year for three straight years - a feat had been achieved only three times in modern history, the last occurring in 1927.
"That achievement is even more remarkable is when you consider that our city's population has grown by some two million people since 1927.
"But such success doesn't come easily. Time and again, our firefighters put themselves in harm's way to protect the rest of us. Over the past year, we've lost twelve more members of the department, including three who died in the line of duty: Lieutenant Bobby Ryan; Firefighter Jamel Sears; and Firefighter Paul Warhola.
"To their friends and family I want to say: I know you still feel the pain of loss very deeply. We share in your sorrow, but we also share in your pride in what these brave men accomplished here on Earth.
"Because being a firefighter was more than just a profession for them - it was a calling. You could clearly see that in each of them.
"I actually got the chance to meet Bobby Ryan, a couple of years ago, when he was recuperating from the injuries he sustained fighting a fire in Brooklyn. He could have retired then and no one would have blamed him for it. But instead, he focused on getting better so he could get right back to saving lives as soon as possible. It was clear that you could never take the firefighter out of Bobby.
"The same can be said of Firefighter Paul Warhola, who was there for our city in its darkest hour. Paul's greatest gift to New York was the role he played in rebuilding our city and its fire department after 9/11. When we needed his patience, experience, and wisdom the most - he was there to give it.
"Another man who treated firefighting like the noble calling that it is - is Firefighter Jamel Sears. His drive and enthusiasm was immediately apparent to his instructors at the academy. One of them even described Jamel as 'the perfect probie.' Although Jamel's career was cut tragically short, he will be forever remembered in the hearts of his fellow classmates at the academy. And as I told Jamel's class at their graduation in December, I'm sure he will be watching over them, just as he'll be watching over his own family.
"The three men I've just described embodied the best values of the FDNY and now, bound in the brotherhood of their ultimate sacrifice for us, they receive our deepest gratitude and respect.
"May God bless the memory of those we have lost. And may God continue to bless and protect you all."
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958
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