By Ray O’Hanlon
The three Irish-American firefighters who died tragically in last year’s Father’s Day fire in Queens were remembered at ceremonies in the New York City borough over the weekend.
And the wives of John Downing, Brian Fahey and Harry Ford are now planning to sue the owners of the hardware store that collapsed in the fatal June 17 fire.
Fahey and Ford were remembered at a ceremony last Friday, June 14, at the Rescue 4 firehouse in Woodside.
Downing was honored at a separate ceremony on Monday when a plaque in his honor was dedicated at the Ladder 163 firehouse in Woodside by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta,
“We will for ever remember him as one of New York’s bravest,” Bloomberg said of Downing.
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Downing was about to travel to Ireland with his family for a vacation when tragedy struck.
The blaze on Astoria Boulevard left behind three widows and eight children without a father.
Anne Downing, Mary Fahey and Denise Ford are now planning to sue the Long Island General Supply Company alleging improper storage of hazardous and inflammable materials. Attorneys for the widows also allege that a fire-preventing door in the store’s basement was not properly operational.
Fahey and Downing are separately planning to sue the city for not properly enforcing the fire code in the building, Newsday reported. Ford is not suing the city.
The fire broke out after two boys playing outside accidentally tipped over a can of gasoline. Gas fumes ignited a heater in the store’s basement. The three firefighters were killed when the store collapsed about them as they fought the subsequent raging fire.
A formal report on the Astoria fire is still being prepared. This is due in large part to the death on Sept. 11 of the fire department’s chief investigator Lawrence Stack and serious injury sustained by another top NYFD investigator, Battalion Chief Brian O’Flaherty.
The report is expected to be completed within a few weeks.
Walter on board
Former New York City council member Walter McCaffrey has been appointed to the board of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center in Queens.
McCaffrey was a prominent supporter of the Irish Immigration Reform movement during its campaign for visas in the 1980s and early ’90s and as a council member representing the Woodside district was instrumental in the EIIC receiving its initial funding from New York City.
In a ceremony this week, McCaffrey was formally welcomed to his new position when the EIIC named the conference room at its Woodside offices after him.
An Atlantic fare up
Flying to Cork on Aer Lingus?
If so, dig a little deeper into your pocket. The cash-strapped carrier is raising its round-trip trans-Atlantic fare to Cork by euro 90.
Aer Lingus does not fly directly to Cork. Passengers must first fly to either Shannon or Dublin and make a connection.
Up until now, the fare to Cork was at the same level as that to Dublin. The fare increase is being applied as a surcharge for passengers making the final hop to Ireland’s second city.
The increase does not apply to Premier Class passengers or one-way ticket purchasers.