Today is known within the ranks of the FDNY as Black Sunday. On Jan. 23, 2005, the FDNY lost four members who were killed fighting two separate fires. Eight year's ago was a day much like today. It was frigid cold, but duty called. The first fire occured in the Bronx on East 178 th Street. At this blaze Lt. Curtis Meyran, FF John Bellew, Lt. Joseph DiBernardo, FF Jeffrey Cool, FF Eugene Stolowski, and FF Brendan Cawley were forced to jump several stories from the building when the apartment fire intensified, trapping them in a room. The apartment had been illegally altered to accommodate illegal occupants. The alterations cut off alternative means of escape. Lt. Meyran, FF Bellew died from their injuries. Lt. DiBernardo passed away several years later as a result of the traumatic injuries he sustained from the fall. In Brooklyn on the same day, a two alarm house fire claimed the life of FF Richard Sclafani of Ladder Company 103.
Take time today to remember these brave souls who made the ultimate sacrifice in the performance of their duties in the finest traditions of the FDNY. If any good came out of this tragedy it would be the putting in place of stricter building code enforcement procedures and the creation and availability of a more efficiently designed bail out system for firefighters to use when forced to escape from a raging fire. Hopefully these changes will save firefighter lives in the future.
Rest in Peace.