Tragedy struck New York’s Bravest on Wednesday, April 20, 2017 when Firefighter William N. Tolley, 42, died due to injuries sustained in the line of duty.
Hearts are heavy at Ladder Company 135 where the 14 year veteran of the fire department served. The impact of his death was felt throughout the entire FDNY as the 5-5-5-5 signal was transmitted along with a message of his death.
Firefighters had been called to a scene of a fire that had broken out shortly after 2 PM in an apartment building in Ridgewood, Queens. FF Tolley was in the bucket of the ladder ventilating the building on the roof, a common practice when he fell to his death. It is still unclear what caused him to fall, however, it’s been determined that it was not due to the fire itself.
“It was really in the operation that he was performing on the roof, which is a routine operation for us, and somehow he fell from the roof”, said Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro in an emotional news conference yesterday.
Some eyewitnesses claim to have seen the bucket of the ladder shake before FF Tolley fell out. Investigators are working on piecing together all the information they can obtain in order to determine what caused his untimely death.
A makeshift memorial is growing outside Ladder 135 Engine 286 as the neighborhood Tolley helped to protect honor him.
In addition to his family and his job, Tolley was passionate about his music. He was a renowned heavy metal drummer of the band InternalBleeding since it formed in 1991. The band was set to begin a nationwide tour beginning on May 27, 2017.
His band members who described him as “the heartbeat of the band”. They said, “There are ZERO WORDS to describe the loss” as they paid tribute to him on Facebook. “He was a good, decent and honorable man who loved his friends, his family and the people he served. There will never be another like him. There are no words to describe the utter sadness and despair we feel right now. We love you Bill”, they continued.
In a 2013 interview with All About The Rock, he described himself as a “family man” and said “I love spending time with my wife and daughter doing all sorts of fun stuff together”. He leaves behind his wife and young daughter.
At a news conference on Thursday Mayor de Blasio said, “A man dedicated to protecting others gave his life to this work and, like all members of the FDNY, understood every single day he was putting his life on the line, but he did t willingly in service of others”.
Services for the fallen hero will be at Fredrick J. Chapey & Sons Funeral Home in Bethpage on Tuesday night from 7- 9 PM and on Wednesday from 2-4 PM and again from 7-9 PM. The funeral mass will be held at St. Martin of Tours Church in Bethpage on Thursday at 11 AM.