Tag Archives: Martin McHale

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.



Fire marshal remembered as a hero

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Mike DiBartolomeo

The FDNY fire marshal who died of a heart attack in his car Christmas Eve was remembered by friends and family as a fearless hero.

Martin “Woody” McHale, 50, was behind the wheel of his gray Chevy Silverado on December 24 when he suffered a heart attack around 6:40 p.m. and crashed into a tree less than 200 feet from his Hollis Hills home, police and the Queens Medical Examiner’s office said.

The off-duty officer was later pronounced dead at North Shore University Hospital.

“He was a wonderful person. You couldn’t meet anyone better,” said his cousin, Brian McHale. “He had a heart of gold.”

Neighbors and friends said it was McHale’s natural instinct to help others, even on his days off. He was a hero in the city and on the quiet Queens block where he lived with his three-year-old twin boys, they said.

“My daughter used to run up to him and he used to pick her up and hug her,” said Helena Barsky, who lived next door to McHale. “He helped out the neighbor in the next house. She had somebody robbing her house, and he chased down the robbers and got them caught.”

McHale served the FDNY for 23 years and was a member of the department’s football team. He became a fire marshal in 1999, the FDNY said, and earned the Commissioner Martin Scott Medal in 2007.

Longtime friend Steven Molinari said McHale constantly ran towards danger, on and off-duty, when others would bolt the other way. He also showed his valor in small acts of kindness, Molinari said, like helping people in wheelchairs get home safely.

McHale’s compassion and bravery led to Molinari naming his West Village bar after the hero, while he was alive.

“That’s who he was. Just over and over again, these were the types of things he did. He went out of his way to help people,” Molinari said. “He was a hero even in the small things he did.”

(THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola)