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Assembly Passes Bill Honoring Fallen Malverne Firefighter

The New York state Assembly and Senate approve amendment to criteria for adding volunteer firefighters to memorial in Albany.

Nearly five years after Malverne volunteer firefighter Paul Brady perished in the line of duty, his name may finally appear on a memorial in Albany in 

The New York state Assembly approved an act (A05933) to amend the volunteer firefighters' benefit law to include the names of all members who die or have died while performing services in the line of duty on the fallen firefighters wall at the Capitol Mall.

The bill, which passed in the Senate earlier this month, was created in response to outrage that Brady, a six-year veteran of the Malverne Fire Department, had been denied a spot on the state memorial following his death on July 30, 2006. It was sponsored by Sen. Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre.

"I am pleased that fallen firefighter Paul Brady will finally receive this distinction that is very long overdue" said Skelos, the Senate Majority Leader. "Paul was a devoted husband, a loyal friend, and a dedicated firefighter who under a tragic set of circumstances was killed in the line of duty.The passage of this legislation ensures that Paul's name will be inscribed on the Fallen Firefighters Memorial where it belongs."

Brady, 42, had been participating in various drils and training for the deparment with 12 other volunteer firefighters that day, when he was fatally injured in an accident. Brady was on the top of a heavy rescue fire truck performing maintenance activities as part of the training, when another firefighter, unaware of Brady's presence atop the vehicle, began to drive the truck, causing him to hit a ceiling beam and fall off. Brady suffered serious internal injuries, which led to his death later that day.

The New York State Workers' Compensation Board determined that Brady died in the line of duty and awarded death benefits to his wife, as did the United States Department of Justice when dismissing a wrongful death action against the village of Malverne and its fire department. Brady was honored by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, which also recognized his passing as a line of duty death.

However,  the New York State Fallen Firefighter Memorial Committee refused to add Brady's name to their monument, denying an application sent by the Malverne Fire Department on Nov. 30, 2006 and subsequent requests. 

They ruled that the activity that Brady was involved in when he died did not meet the ' Line of Duty' definition. 

"The Chief of Department along with Paul’s family, friends, thousands of brother and sister firefighters and local lawmakers are stunned by the Committee’s actions and also are appalled at several inappropriate comments made by members of this New York State committee with regard to Firefighter Paul R. Brady and the tragic accident that took his life in the line of duty," a spokesman for the Malverne Volunteer Fire Department said in statement released in April 2010, after the fourth request was denied.

The Malverne Fire Department and Brady's estate took the issue to the state Supreme Court in Nassau County, where a rally was held outside the building in September 2010 that included Brady's family, friends and fellow firefighters, along with local politicians, who demanded Brady receive "his rightful spot on the memorial wall in Albany."

Sen. Skelos introduced the legislation (S.4655) in April 2011 to the Senate, which passed it with a vote of 138 yea-1 nay on June 15. It then moved on to the state Assembly, where it was sponsored by Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, D-Long Beach.

“While there is no way to repay the families of firefighters who make the ultimate sacrifice, the state memorial is a small way for New York to recognize their service,” Weisenberg said. “Paul Brady’s family...deserve to see his name next to those of other fallen heroes from our state.”

The bill stated that Brady fit all the criteria set forth in 1998 by then Gov. George Pataki, James McGowan, a retired PUNY lieutenant, and Gunnar Nielsen, who at the time was president of the Firemen's Association of the State of New York,  to earn a spot on the wall. It also pointed out that other agencies had determined his death to have occurred while in the line of duty.

It called for an amendment to be added to ensure that in any case of death of a volunteer firefighter the deceased should have their name inscribed on the state memorial in Albany if an authoritative agency determines their death resulted from services performed in the line of duty. The legislation says this includes but is not limited to the Workers' Compensation Board, the Federal Department of Justice and the Office of Fire Prevention and Control. 

The bill reads, "If anything, firefighter Brady's tragic death only proves the point that every task, no matter how routine it may seem, is an act of dedication....Despite the opinions of some professional firefighters that the wall would be 'cheapened' by including Paul Brady on the wall, the families of fallen firefighters deserve a place aside from a mournful cemetery, to remember their own personal hero, a place where they can look up to their lost love one's name and leave with a feeling of pride and honor rather than that of sorrow."

David Jacobowitz, president of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY), hailed the passage of the legislation in  both houses as “a long awaited breakthrough that will be warmly embraced by volunteer firefighters throughout the state, which will bring a rational, objective set of standards to facilitate the placement of the names of our fallen on the memorial wall in Albany.”

The bill is now awaiting a signature from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Once signed, it would go into effect immediately.

"On behalf of the Malverne Volunteer Fire Department and the family and friends of our deceased brother firefighter, Paul Ryan Brady, we are pleased with the passage of the bill in both the Senate and Assembly,” said Malverne Fire Chief Daniel Morgan. “We look forward to the governor’s signature giving Paul the honor he deserve for giving his life for the residents of his community.”

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