By Emily Drooby
Remembering three of New York’s bravest: Harry Ford, Brian Fahey and John Downing. They were heroes and all killed fighting a fire on June 17, 2001.
Their three widows, families, friends, and fellow firefighters gathered at St. Sebastian’s in Woodside, Queens on the 20th anniversary of their deaths to remember the three Catholic men.
The men’s lives were taken while fighting what has now been dubbed, the “Father’s Day Fire.” Lieutenant Nicholas D’Alessandro was there.
“Well, it was a beautiful day, Sunday, Father’s Day,” Lt. Nicholas said. “We were all anxious to go home obviously.”
Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. Instead, Lt. Nicholas and many other firefighters were called to an Astoria, Queens hardware store where a five-alarm fire was blazing. Harry, Brian and John were killed in an explosion.
On Thursday morning, wreaths were laid in remembrance.
Of the loss, Lt. Nicholas said, “The fire department is one big family, all five boroughs, and you feel the loss sincerely in your heart, and it never goes away.”
Following the wreath-laying, members of the fire department filled the pews of St. Sebastian’s, where John Downing was a parishioner for a Mass. A place for both family and friends to reflect.
“Brian was a cheerful, jolly guy, very knowledgeable,” explained Lt. George Torres “He was a natural born teacher.” Lt. George is from Rescue Four – just like Harry and Brian.
“It’s really heartwarming,” said Father Patrick West. As the administrator of St Sebastian Church, he celebrated the Mass and explained why the event was touching.
“To see how many people from the parish came out to remember in thanksgiving for the sacrifice they made in protecting us,” Father West added.
All in all, they remembered those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect New Yorkers.