UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan — The Annual FDNY Memorial Service is a somber and sacred day for the department each year as it commemorates fallen members from the last twelve months. This year, 10 of its bravest were remembered at the Firemen’s Memorial on the Upper West Side, where it’s traditionally held.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city was also honoring the families left behind.
“We have to thank you as well,” de Blasio said. “We have to be there for you and this department has an extraordinary history and extraordinary tradition. They never forget the family members.”
The Firemen’s Monument was built in 1913 and the two sculptures on the sides represent sacrifice and duty.
FDNY Chief of Department Thomas Richardson says the fallen members exemplify those words.
“The duty to service, a willingness to sacrifice for others— that is what the fdny represents,” Richardson said.
Evelyn Ford, 58, was one of the members honored on Wednesday. The 27-year EMS veteran died of COVID in December before the vaccine became available to her.
About 60 percent of FDNY members are vaccinated and, on Wednesday at the memorial service, Commissioner Daniel Nigro told reporters that he supports a mandate with no testing alternative.
“I absolutely do,” Nigro said. “I think it will save lives. We’ve lost 16 members of this department. We had two family members here today in tears after losing their family member to COVID and I think it’s time. People have had a long time to think about this for our members to be mandated.”
Ford’s son Adrian Tellado was hospitalized with the virus and is now vaccinated.
“In terms of a mandate, I feel like it should be on everyone’s best interest,” Tellado said. “In terms of personal opinion, I feel everyone should have their own choice of whether to get the vaccine or not.”
The commissioner says for the remaining FDNY members who aren’t vaccinated, he thinks they’ll make — what he says — the right decision. A union poll from last year found that roughly half of firefighters said they would not get the vaccine.
The memorial service ceremony closed out with a sea of blue on Riverside Drive as FDNY members marched in precision to honor the family members and fallen members, acknowledging the department will always be there.