Sadly, some LODD’s are forgotten. Not in the sense that the loved ones who died in the Line of Duty are forgotten-but more in the sense of how and why they died. In this case, the loss has never been forgotten for a variety of reasons. Please take a moment to read this and pass it on as well.
Think of this fire the next time someone you know decides to not wear their PPE…understand that the horrible death of these Firefighters forced a significant change. Unfortunately, many LODD’s do not force change.
A wall of fire literally engulfed 3 FDNY Firefighters as they searched for residents feared trapped in a SoHo apartment building on March 28, 1994, initially killing one Firefighter (James Young, 31) and critically burning the other two. Young was the son of a retired battalion chief, Harold Young, and had two brothers in the department, Michael and Kenny.
His injured Brothers, Christopher J. Siedenburg, 25, of Staten Island, a firefighter since 1991, and Capt. John J. Drennan, 49, of Staten Island, a 26-year veteran, were taken to the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center burn unit. Siedenberg died the next day. Read on to learn about Captain Drennans ordeal.
The fire began on the first floor of the narrow building and at first remained there. The 3 Firefighters were in a second-floor hallway when horror struck. The fire blew out a door on the first floor and moved along the ceiling to the stairway and up to the second floor-the Firefighters were caught in the hallway.
They were initially going up to make a search for any occupants but all the residents had already safely left the building. The Firefighters were trapped when it flashed over and found in a room, that’s were other Firefighters found them
Firefighters Young and Siedenburg (who died the next day), part of Engine Company 24, and Captain Drennan, of Ladder Company 5 (suffered for 40 days) all would eventually die in the Line of Duty from this fire.
Captain Drennan lived 40 days after the fire, suffering from horrible 3rd & 4th degree burns but living through 10 skin graft operations, repeated infections, liver and kidney failures and other crises that he came close to outlasting, despite heavy odds against him. Despite 10 operations ranging from 3 to 12 hours each to apply grafts of skin from Captain Drennan’s chest, abdomen and scalp to the burned areas of his body — his back and both sides from head to toe and his upper extremities as well — the grafts were unable to establish much healthy new tissue.
Left behind was his wife, Vina Drennan. You know her name. She has become an unstoppable force related to Firefighter and civilian fire safety. She currently serve on the Board of Directors of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. At the time of his death, Captain Drennan left behind their kids as well-Jessica, 25, Adrian, 24, Justine, 19, and John, 14.
Vina, the wife of the Captain after those 40 days after suffering third- and fourth-degree burns in that Manhattan fire was awarded $2 million by the city. Drennan’s wife, Vina, sued, arguing that the City of New York failed to provide her 49-year-old husband with adequate protective gear – equipment that firefighters began using soon after this fire. Use of the protective bunker gear has led to an approximately 70% reduction in firefighters’ burns. It took 3 men burning to death for the action and funding to be “found”…that was their sacrifice.
Vina Drennan’s diary (link below) , in which she describes her husband’s heroic battle to live, as well as other memories of him, captured the hearts of America when it was published in the Daily News (link below). She became and continues as an outspoken advocate of fire safety after her husband’s death.
Families of the three victims also had sued the building’s landlord, Marc Chalom, and Kevin Keegan, head of Bailey Flooring, a company that had illegally stored furniture in a hallway, impeding the firefighters’ movements. The landlord and the flooring company agreed to pay a total of $4 million to the firefighters’ families, court records show. Of that, $3. 2 million went to Drennan’s estate.
Please take time today to learn about this fire and understand the sacrifice it took to get us – all Firefighters – eventually into bunker gear.
—THE FIRE REPORT/STUDY-INCLUDES GREAT DISCUSSION ITEMS:
—VINA DRENNA’S DIARY ABOUT THE FIRE AND HER HUSBANDS BATTLE:
—ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE FIRE: