Tag Archives: FDNY

Woman dead after Jackson Heights apartment fire


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

A 46-year-old woman is dead after a fire at a Jackson Heights home early Saturday morning.

Police responded to the call of a fire at 85-10 34th Ave. at about 3 a.m., and, after the FDNY extinguished the blaze, Sophia Paz was found unconscious and unresponsive in the apartment’s bedroom, according to cops.

Paz was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival, police said.

The fire marshal will determine the cause of the fire and the medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

 

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Howard Beach defunct fire hydrants fixed after residents complain


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of state Sen. Joseph Addabbo's office

The Department of Environmental Protection fixed four broken fire hydrants in Howard Beach after state Sen. Joseph Addabbo’s office brought the problem to the agency’s attention.

“It is a major concern when a fire hydrant at any location is not working, but particularly the two hydrants located … on the block of Ave Maria Catholic Academy,” Addabbo said in a letter to DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd date. “It is important that these fire hydrants remain functional in the event of an emergency.”

Addabbo’s office first became aware of the issue after residents in the area complained to his office. The FDNY marked the four hydrants with a white circle to signal that they were broken. According to the state senator, the fire department is also supposed to tell the DEP about these problems but failed to do so. After receiving Addabbo’s letter, the agency fixed all four hydrants.

“When constituents contacted my office and I saw these fire hydrants, I was shocked,” Addabbo said. “I thought it was unacceptable to leave these communities defenseless, without a proper means to fight against a fire emergency, especially near a school.”

The FDNY did not respond to a query from The Courier about why they didn’t inform the DEP about the problem.

The locations of the four hydrants are 157th Avenue between 86th and 87th streets; 157th Avenue between 100th and 101st streets; in front of Ave Maria Catholic Academy on 158th Avenue between 100th and 101st streets; and 101st Street between 158th and 159th avenues.

 

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Star of Queens: Charles Silverstein, captain-commanding officer, Whitestone Community Volunteer Ambulance Service


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Picture02

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Charles Silverstein is the captain-commanding officer with the Whitestone Community Volunteer Ambulance Service.

Established in 1947, Whitestone Ambulance is a 100 percent free service consisting of about 75 volunteers. It provides a free basic life support ambulance to all of Whitestone, with a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week hotline to respond to medical emergencies. The service also transports Whitestone residents to and from medical facilities in non-emergency situations, and allows them to borrow walkers, canes, wheelchairs and crutches at no charge.

Silverstein started volunteering with the volunteer ambulance service about eight years ago because he needed EMS experience before joining the city’s fire department.

“I wanted to be a fireman. I just didn’t leave,” he said.

He describes his work as mostly administrative. “[I am] kind of like the manager,” he said. Silverstein handles problems with the ambulances and other issues that may arise, and also conducts the service’s monthly meetings.

BACKGROUND: A Queens native, Silverstein, 30, currently lives in Whitestone. He is a firefighter with the FDNY, working in Brooklyn, and has been a member of that department for the past six years. He started as an emergency medical technician, then was upgraded to hazmat, followed by a paramedic, before becoming a fireman.

“It’s phenomenal,” Silverstein said, describing his job. “I’m like a regular guy with a bunch of regular guys and you get to be something else for a moment.”

FAVORITE MEMORY: One of his favorite memories with the ambulance service was Memorial Day 2012, which was a big celebration for the volunteers. They were commemorating the ambulance service’s 65th anniversary and had redone its building. Every year, the neighborhood has a parade for the holiday, and it “pretty much ended at our place,” he said. “It was the culmination of a lot of years of work.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: The biggest challenges Silverstein has while volunteering are people-related. It can take work to find committed volunteers, who must go through a lot of training. Dealing with the public on a day-to-day basis can have its challenges as well, he said.

 

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Retired FDNY chief, Queens native named fire commissioner


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo: Ed Reed for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

Updated 7:55 p.m.

A retired FDNY chief and Whitestone resident has been tapped to lead the city’s fire department.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the appointment of Daniel Nigro as the new FDNY commissioner at the department’s academy on Randall’s Island Friday.

Nigro, 65, who was raised in Bayside, was named chief of department, the highest ranking uniformed position, in 2001 when Chief Peter Ganci Jr., was killed in the Word Trade Center collapse. He retired in 2002 after more than three decades with the FDNY.

The new commissioner will be tasked with bringing more diversity to the department after the city settled an FDNY racial discrimination suit with the Vulcan Society, an association of black firefighters, in March.

“We must no longer wait for a judge’s ruling to tell us what fairness means. We must get out front. We must point the way to change. There is no place in the fire department of our beautiful, diverse city, for injustice and inequality,” Nigro said.

During his time with the department, Nigro oversaw the 1996 merger of the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) into the FDNY. That experience was one reason behind de Blasio’s decision in naming Nigro to the position, according to the AP.

“From reducing EMS response time, to fixing our 911 call system, to increasing workforce diversity, especially in hiring more women—we have a lot to do in the fire department. I look forward to working with our new commissioner to make the necessary reforms to keep New Yorkers safe,” Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, chair of the Council’s Fire and Criminal Justice Committee, said in a statement.

Nigro is replacing Salvatore Cassano, who has served as FDNY commissioner since 2010.

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Queens nonprofit programs look for new home after 5-alarm fire caused by overloaded power strip


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Riyad Hasan

Lilian Castillo lost what felt like her second home last week after a five-alarm fire, caused by an overloaded power strip, engulfed a Jackson Heights building.

Castillo was a former student at the Queens Community House (QCH)’s Adult Education/English Classes for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program and is currently an employee for the nonprofit organization.

QCH, which provided four of its programs at the Bruson Building, located at 74-09 37th Ave., lost its home when the building’s third and fourth floors went up in flames the evening of April 21. Various other organizations, businesses and Plaza College were also housed inside the building.

“When I came to this country from the Dominican Republic, Queens Community House was the first place that welcomed me,” Castillo said. “It was where I met the people who became my friends. I feel as if I lost my second home in the fire.”

The Jackson Heights site was home to QCH’s Adult Education/ESOL program, which provides free intensive English and citizenship classes; immigrant services, providing assistance with citizenship and other legal residency needs; a CASP program, helping youth who have obtained a diploma through a non-traditional high school apply to and succeed in community college; and its Queens Center for Gay Seniors, the borough’s only senior center primarily serving an LGBT older adult population.

Also lost in the fire was a computer lab that was used by all four programs, which aided about 300 residents daily.

“The Center was full of many special, shared memories from the past decade,” Program Director John Nagel said. “Photos, awards, artwork…all gone.”

QCH has been able to secure some space at the Sunnyside Community Services for its Adult Education English classes. It’s Queens Center for Gay Seniors will operate out the QCH’s Kew Gardens Community Center.

According to the FDNY, nine people sustained minor injuries as a result of the fire, including seven firefighters and a police officer.

The cause of the fire was determined to be electrical due to an overloaded power strip, according to the FDNY.

Anyone interested in helping QCH, can visit www.queenscommunityhouse.org.

 

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Five-alarm fire engulfs Jackson Heights commercial building, injuring nine


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Riyad Hasan

CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ANGY ALTAMIRANO 

Updated 1:55 P.M.

A five-alarm fire broke out Monday night at a Jackson Heights building that houses a college and several businesses, leaving nine injured.

The blaze was reported about 5:45 p.m. on Monday, April 21, at the 74-09 37th Ave. building’s third and fourth floors, the FDNY said. By 10 p.m. it had grown to five alarms, with 44 units and around 200 firefighters responding. It was finally under control at about 11:40 p.m., according to fire officials.

An FDNY spokesman said nine people sustained minor injuries as a result of the fire, including seven firefighters and a police officer. The ninth victim, according to published reports, was a child from a nearby building who was taken to the hospital for evaluation.

The community’s “biggest immigrant service provider,” Queens Community House, an LGBT senior center, Plaza College and about 50 other offices, stores and businesses were located inside the fire-damaged structure, according to Councilman Daniel Dromm.

“This is a devastating fire for our community,” Dromm said. “I have spoken to the business owners, many who I know personally, and the effect on their establishments is truly horrible. Thankfully, there were no fatalities. We will rebuild and come back as a better and stronger Jackson Heights.”

Charles Callahan, president of Plaza College, said classes were not in session when the fire began and he has not been informed of the cause of the fire on the partially vacant floors.

“All faculty, staff and students were safely evacuated from the building,” a post on the school’s Facebook page said. It added there will be “no services of any type” at the college Tuesday.

Plaza College, which has about 750 students, has been located in the building since 1971 and has been planning to move to Forest Hills in September 2014. Classes were expected to begin in May.

However, at the moment, school officials are surveying nearby sites to find a temporary location for the school until September.

“We want to help students ensure that they aren’t misplaced. I’m sure we’ll get through this,” Callahan said. “My heart goes out because this has been my home for all these years.”

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation and firefighters were still at the scene as a precaution as of Tuesday morning, according to the FDNY.

 

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Two toddlers die in Far Rockaway home fire


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Updated Monday, April 21, 3:35 p.m.

Two 4-year-old siblings died early Easter morning in an accidental fire at a Far Rockaway home, according to the FDNY.

Firefighters responded to a one-alarm fire in the basement of a Bay 30th Street home at about 11:56 p.m. Saturday and the fire was under control by 1:17 a.m., officials said.

The cause of the blaze has been determined to be an accidental fire due to a child playing with fire, according to the FDNY.

Five people were removed from the two-story home, including 4-year-olds Jai’Luni Tinglin and Aniya Tinglin, who were taken to St. John’s Hospital and pronounced dead on arrival, police said.

The two toddlers were half-siblings, according to the NYPD.

Another 4-year old girl, Jai’Luni’s twin sister, was taken to St. John’s Hospital and is in stable condition. A 55-year-old woman was transported to Jamaica Hospital and a 63-year-old man, identified by police as the kid’s grandfather, was taken to Nassau University Medical Center. Both are listed in stable condition, cops said.

An FDNY officer was also transported to a nearby hospital with minor and none life threatening injuries, fire officials said.

According to a report published on the New York Post’s website Monday, the FDNY said that ambulances were delayed in responding to the deadly blaze.

“We are looking at the timeline and why it happened,” Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said, according to the Post.

 

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Family, friends share memories of victims killed in Astoria creek accident


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The four young passengers who died when their car plunged into an Astoria creek after a birthday celebration were always smiling and looking toward the future, their friends and families recalled.

Jada Monique Butts, 19, was a loving person who enjoyed laughing, smiling and having fun, said Tiani Martin, her best friend of more than 10 years. One of five children, the Borough of Manhattan Community College student wanted to one day work behind the scenes in the music industry.

“She was a beautiful spirit and loved to stay positive,” Martin said. “We did everything together and she will live on.”

Butts was one of four East Elmhurst friends who died on April 4 when their Honda Accord rolled over into Steinway Creek in Astoria.

“She was my little right-hand woman,” said Paula Slader, Butts’ mother.

Another passenger was 20-year-old Jaleel Feurtado, who had the dream to play professional basketball after shining bright on the Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School basketball team, remembered his family. Feurtado was an only child and was the eldest of the family’s grandchildren.

“He was a good kid,” said one of his relatives, who wanted to remain unnamed. “He was the apple of our eyes, everyone just loved him.”

Darius Fletcher, 21, and Crystal Gravely, 19, also lost their lives in the accident. Gravely would have celebrated her 20th birthday the following day.

The driver, 20-year-old Andrew Gramm, was traveling at 60 mph when he decided to make a U-turn on the wet road, according to reports. Once the vehicle went into the water, reportedly 8 feet deep, Gramm managed to escape the vehicle and call for help, cops said, but his four friends were still inside the car when authorities arrived.

FDNY divers then extracted Fletcher, Butts, Gravely and Feurtado, who were later pronounced dead, according to police.

Gramm was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center, police said. He was given a preliminary breath test where results showed he was sober during the time of the accident, police said.

The NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad is still looking into the accident and one politician has called for a review of safety measures on the various roads leading to the water.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Cloudy early, then off and on rain showers for the afternoon. High 51. Winds SE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 80%. Monday night: Rain likely. Low 47. Winds SE at 15 to 25 mph. Rainfall around a half an inch.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Lecture and Exhibit – The 1964-65 World’s Fair

Rosalie Kenny discusses the fair, which is best remembered as a showcase of mid-20th-century American culture and technology, including the launch of the Ford Mustang. Event also kicks off exhibit of at least 30 rare photographs from 1939 and 1964 fairs which runs through June 30 at the Greater Astoria Historical Society. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

NYPD: Crime up 30 percent in housing projects

Some of the mayoral candidates, including the current mayor spent a night in the Lincoln housing projects, vowing to make conditions better for the residents. Read more: Fox New York

Charity brawl: NYPD, FDNY engage in wild fisticuffs at Nassau Coliseum

Moral of the story? Boys will be boys, even if they are playing for a good cause. Read more: CBS New York

Health Department fails to regularly inspect abortion clinics

The state Health Department is failing to inspect many of New York’s abortion clinics — with some facilities escaping scrutiny for more than a decade, bombshell documents obtained by The Post reveal. Read more: New York Post

NY task force to study rise in heroin, opioid use

A legislative task force in New York is taking a look at ways to address the rise in heroin and opioid abuse. Read more: NBC New York. Read more: NBC New York

Legendary actor Mickey Rooney dies at 93

Mickey Rooney’s approach to life was simple: “Let’s put on a show!” Read more: AP

Four dead after car plunges into Astoria creek


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos via Facebook

Updated 2:30 p.m.

Four people are dead after their car went into an Astoria creek Friday night, according to the NYPD.

A Honda Accord, driven by a 20-year-old man, was traveling on 19th Avenue near 37th Street about 10:40 p.m. when it hit the curb and rolled over into Steinway Creek, police said.

The driver managed to escape the vehicle, cops said, but  four people were still inside the car when authorities arrived. FDNY divers then extracted the passengers,  Darius Fletcher,21, Jada Monique Butts, 19, Crystal Gravely, 19, and Jaleel Furtado, 20, all from East Elmhurst, according to police.

The women and one of the men were taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center where they were pronounced dead, officials said. The second man was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital where he was also pronounced deceased.

The 20-year-old driver was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center where he is currently listed in stable condition, police said. He was given a preliminary breath test where results showed he was sober during the time of the accident, according to police.

The NYPD’s Highway Collision Investigation Squad is looking into the accident.

 

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3-alarm fire breaks out in South Richmond Hill home, damages second house


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Sara E. Diaz

A blaze broke out at a home in South Richmond Hill Sunday afternoon, damaging a neighboring home.

The fire started about 11:25 a.m. at an occupied residence on 120th Street and grew to a three-alarm blaze 20 minutes later, the FDNY said. It was under control by about 12:35 p.m., according to fire officials, but not before damaging an adjacent house.

There were no reported injuries and the cause of the blaze is under investigation, the FDNY said.

 

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Firefighters battle blazing Howard Beach brush fire


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Robert Stridiron

Updated Monday, March 17, 9:25 a.m.

More than 100 firefighters tamed a massive brush fire that lit up Howard Beach late Saturday afternoon, the FDNY said.

Flames broke out in a field of reeds near Spring Creek Park at 83rd Street and 163rd Avenue at about 4:20 p.m., fire officials said.

The FDNY said it took about 138 firefighters and 33 units to put out the three-alarm blaze. It was under control by about 6:20 p.m.

There were no reported injuries, according to the Fire Department.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation, an FDNY spokesperson said.

 

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Community Board 7 votes to name park after fallen fire marshal


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Randall Wilson

A fallen Queens fire marshal may soon be honored in a way that would allow his young twin boys to grow up realizing their father’s legacy.

Community Board 7 voted Monday to name a playground in Fort Totten after Martin “Woody” McHale, 50, who died of a heart attack in his car Christmas Eve 2012.

McHale, who lived in Hollis Hills, suffered the attack on his way home from work and crashed his car into a tree less than 200 feet from his house, police and the Queens Medical Examiner’s office said.

“Woody was a role model. He was a mentor. He was a fireman’s fireman,” said his boss, Commander Randall Wilson of the FDNY’s Bureau of Fire Investigation. “His heart was always in the right place, and if more people had a heart like his, the world would be a much better place.”

McHale, a member of the FDNY for 23 years, was assigned to the bureau’s Citywide North Command in Fort Totten. He would bring his twin 4-year-old boys to the currently nameless playground next to his job on his days off, Wilson said.

“He only had a few short years to spend with his sons,” the fire commander said. “Many of those days were at the playground on Fort Totten. His boys loved it there and Woody cherished the time spent at the playground with them.”

The change needs to be approved by Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s Parks Department commissioner.

A bar in the West Village was named after McHale while he was alive.

“Having this park named in his honor would show generations of children just how wonderful he was,” Wilson said. “It would be a legacy for his family and for the fire marshal’s department.”

Community Board 7 also approved a $2.4 million capital Parks Department project to rebuild the crumbling sea wall at Hermon A. Macneil Park in College Point.

The City Council funded plans also include creating a separate fishing area and a kayak launch at the park. The plans still need state Department of Environmental Conservation approval.

 

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Fire breaks out at former Peninsula Hospital


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

A blaze broke out at the former Peninsula Hospital in Far Rockaway Tuesday afternoon, the FDNY said.

The fire started in an outside boiler at the 51-15 Beach Channel Dr. site about 4:45 p.m. Firefighters were able to put out the blaze in about an hour, the FDNY said.

No one was injured in the fire.

Fire officials said the cause is still under investigation.

The hospital closed in 2012.

 

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Church keeps the faith, vows to rebuild after fire


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Parishioners of the Deliverance Tabernacle Church know that despite a fire tearing through their sacred space, greater things are still to come.

“We are devastated that our place of worship has been destroyed, but the cross still stands,” said Donniese Barrow, a church board member. “With all of this damage, the cross did not fall.”

A two-alarm blaze broke out Monday morning about 3 a.m. in the Jamaica church’s basement. Although a cause has yet to be determined, a church official and technician heard it was electrical.

It took the FDNY about an hour to put out the flames, and despite conflicting reports, firefighters had no problems with frozen fire hydrants.

“Reports said [there were problems] but we confirmed the hydrants [were functioning],” said an FDNY spokesperson.

Four firefighters sustained minor injuries and were taken to Jamaica Hospital.

The building was significantly damaged on the inside, but less than a day after the fire, neighboring churches had opened their doors to the 150-person congregation, Barrow said.

“Other churches have reached out to offer space and to try and accommodate us until we find something,” she said. “People have been really supportive.”

Barrow said officials plan to rebuild the space, and despite losing everything, their faith is still alive.

“We know something greater is coming from this,” she said. “It’s going to be a long process. But we are strong and our faith is stronger.”

 

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