Heroism manifest, FDNY Chief Michael J. Fahy made the ultimate sacrifice Tuesday in professional dedication to keeping New York safe.
Let us mourn with his family, his battalion, the Fire Department and the city for a life cut short by an explosion in a Bronx drug house.
Fahy, 44, responded to the scene after neighbors reported smelling gas, an odor that signaled great peril for everyone in the surrounding area.
Suddenly, a blast propelled chunks of the roof from the brick row house turned grow house, including an indoor garden for cultivating marijuana plants.
In command of fellow firefighters, he died while carrying out vital duties of public safety, directing an evacuation of the house and neighboring homes.
This brave battalion chief shouldered the responsibility and risk with devotion learned from his father, who retired at the same FDNY rank after 33 years of exemplary service. Tragically, providence allowed the son to follow the father’s footsteps for just over half those years.
Left without a dad now are three children ages 6, 8 and 11.
Left without what Commissioner Daniel Nigro called “one of our rising stars” is an FDNY where line-of-duty deaths are mercifully rarer than in years past but no less excruciating.
Bronx marijuana grow house explosion kills fire chief, injures 20
Fahy demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the practice of public safety — earning a degree at New York Law School before joining East Harlem’s Engine Company 35/Ladder Company 14.
Four years ago, he wrote a master’s thesis at the Naval Postgraduate School that studied trust-building strategies to improve collaboration between the FDNY and NYPD in moments of crisis, such as a terrorist attack or natural disaster.
With courage and candor, he concluded that the two departments had much work to do in order to improve procedures and training that would build trusting cooperation when most needed.
“Members of the FDNY and NYPD are sometimes either reluctant or simply unable to communicate with each other early on at an incident scene,” Fahy wrote.
“This lack of communication creates uncertainty and inhibits swift trust.”
The rapid joint NYPD and FDNY response to the explosion that claimed Fahy’s life, and injured more than a dozen police officers, firefighters and civilians, provides fitting counterpoint.
May the memory of Chief Michael Fahy be served by a resolution of Commissioner Nigro, NYPD Commissioner Jimmy O’Neill and Mayor de Blasio to study his findings and commit to sealing the ties and trust between the departments that this fallen hero so fervently sought.