HEROES– The 2996 Project for 9/11

This blog, along with nearly three thousand other blogs, will each be featuring the story of a single individual who was murdered by Islamofascists on 9/11/01. My blog will be telling you about Brian Hickey 47 year old Fire Captain who was killed in the WTC on a rescue mission.

2,996 is a tribute to the victims of 9/11.

On September 11, 2006, 2,996 volunteer bloggers
will join together for a tribute to the victims of 9/11.
Each person will pay tribute to a single victim.

We will honor them by remembering their lives,
and not by remembering their murderers.

Brian Hickey

Brian Hickey Fireman WTC

 

Brian Christopher Hickey

The Way He Wanted to Die / A wounded, heroic fire captain now missing in rubble

September 19, 2001

Three months ago, at a time when death seemed everywhere, Capt. Brian Hickey and his wife, Donna, had just finished burying two of his men from Rescue 4. They had been killed with another firefighter in a hardware store blaze in Astoria on Father’s Day. Hickey himself bore the wounds of a blast that had blown him into a ceiling that day. A sense of mourning cloaked the city. But the captain, who always knew who he was and who he wanted to be, told his wife to take heart.

“Everyone’s got to die one day; it’s inescapable,” he said that night. “I hope I go that way.”

Now, at a time when death is everywhere, the Rescue 4 captain has been lost, along with other members of his company, in the cascade of flame, stone and metal that once was the World Trade Center. Outside his firehouse in Woodside on Monday, a thousand New Yorkers lit the dark with candles, said Hail Marys and sang the “Star Spangled Banner.”

Inside, at a handmade kitchen table, Donna Hickey remembered her husband’s words and said she’s going to be OK. Brian Hickey had volunteered for an overtime shift when he was lost in the Twin Towers collapse, and after a week of private hell, his wife no longer believes he will be found alive. She said she’s at peace, knowing that he meant what he said — this is the way he wanted to die.

Hickey had said the same thing in a different way at his dining room table this past April during an interview about fire protection.

“Young guys always think they’re going to live forever,” said the Bethpage volunteer and former fire commissioner. “But you can never lose sight of what our job really is.”

Hickey’s job as a city rescue captain was to pull people out of burning buildings, to haul them out of holes and out of wrecked cars, and out from under the tracks of subway trains and the fuselages of crashed planes. He presided over a company of men so admired that buffs all over the country line up to bid at auction for their cast- off garments.

He described his calling in “FDNY: Brothers in Battle,” a movie he made with his late, younger brother Ray, a television editor and Bethpage volunteer who died of cancer soon after the film aired on the Arts & Entertainment channel in 1992.

“I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman,” Hickey quotes a turn-of-the-century New York fire chief, Edward Crocker, as the film opens. “The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we who know the work which a fireman has to do, believe his is a noble calling. Our proudest moment is to save … lives. Under the impulse of such thoughts, the nobility of the occupation thrills us and stimulates us to deeds of daring, even of supreme sacrifice.”

Hickey found his calling when he was 18 years old and a friend invited him to the Bethpage firehouse. He was so taken with the life that he put off going to college to join.

“It’s a brotherhood, it’s a camaraderie, it’s a club that you belong to,” he said in the April interview. “Ask a young firefighter why they joined and they’ll say, ‘I want to fight fires, I want to save lives.’ But it’s not really your main reason for doing it. It’s to belong to the club and do something exciting.”

The fun stopped on the night of May 25, 1978, when a man who had just been fired from a swimming pool store got drunk and torched the building. Two members of Hickey’s brotherhood, Bethpage Capt. Joseph Dunn, 25, and firefighter Robert Hassett, 21, were trapped in the blaze and died.

And Brian Hickey’s life changed.

“From that point on I took it more serious. I was 24 at the time. I changed. I went down a different road as far as what I thought was important and not important.”

The road took a permanent turn 20 years ago when he joined the New York City Fire Department. He started with an engine company in Harlem, then went to a ladder company in the Bronx. After tours in Woodside and South Jamaica in Queens, he was promoted to captain three years ago.

Meanwhile, he kept active at home on Long Island, becoming an instructor at the Nassau County Fire Academy and a commissioner in Bethpage.

As a Bethpage commissioner, Hickey successfully pushed for greater cooperation with other departments to improve response times and became known as a vocal critic of Long Island’s firefighting system — something that angered many of his volunteer peers.

In an article in Fire News three years ago, Hickey made his point bluntly. “Nassau County is approaching an era that will soon be called to judgment because of the cost of running the Volunteer Fire Service.” He decried “outlandish” equipment purchases and “outrageous” budget increases in local departments without corresponding improvements in service.

“I’m a loud mouth, but I’ve been around long enough to see what’s happening,” Hickey said in April. He said he wasn’t concerned about whether his views made him unpopular in his hometown.

“You don’t realize until you’re older what our job really is,” he said. “You realize it’s more dangerous.”

When a gas can spilled by a teenager seeped into the basement of a hardware building supply store in Astoria and onto some electrical wiring, bursting into flames on Father’s Day, Hickey again faced danger.

He had led four of his men into the building with a water can and demolition tools when the chemicals in the basement exploded, hurling them against the ceiling. Hickey and three of the men managed to escape as the floor collapsed beneath them. But Firefighter Brian Fahey, a fellow instructor at the Nassau Fire Academy, was not so lucky.

As a dazed and wounded Hickey struggled to regain his bearings, his radio crackled with a terse mayday from Fahey, who was was trapped in the basement. Fire crews launched a frenetic effort to pull him out of the inferno but were driven back. The driver of Hickey’s rig, Harry Ford, lay dead on the sidewalk under toppled masonry. Another firefighter, John Downing, was found nearby.

A preliminary probe concluded this was one of the few fatal fires in city history that couldn’t be chalked up to poor training, or misplaced resources, or anything other than freak bad luck. Hickey was philosophical — except for one thing.

“The only thing that hurt him, hurt him deeply,” his wife said, “was that he couldn’t save their lives. He had no control.”

Hickey used his sick leave as a gift, taking his youngest son Kevin to the driving range almost every day, buying the 9-year-old his own set of clubs and teaching him to swing.

The Hickey’s oldest son Daniel, 23, is in the Marines. Dennis, 18, finished high school last year. Last week, they held a sweet 16 party for their daughter Jackie. It took place in the meeting hall at the Bethpage firehouse. Rescue 4 firefighter Bill Pollack catered the meal.

“She was in a beautiful red dress,” Donna Hickey recalled. “The deejay asked her to go get her dad, and they danced to ‘Lady in Red.’ It was unbelievable. My daughter’s got that for the rest of her life.”

Looking back, the firefighter’s wife says her husband had prepared her for the possibility of widowhood from the very beginning of their marriage, and she had accepted it. From the time Donna was 16, she recalled, “he was all mine.”

She was cutting third period at Bethpage High School to go to the diner one day and was looking for someone with a car. Brian Hickey had a beat-up old black Chevrolet with holes in the roof. It was good enough. From then on, they skipped third period every day to go to the diner.

Donna Hickey has few regrets. “This was a calling. This is his calling. He knew the dangers and was never, never afraid, because his heart was in the job. It’s his life. He was one of the fortunate people who go through this life never questioning, ‘What am I going to be, what am I going to do?’

“I’m very proud of him. He’s a hero. It’s a big loss for the city of New York.”

Then she laughed, a deeply happy laugh.

“But I had him.”

— Elizabeth Moore (Newsday)

_____________________________________________________________________

To my father…….i finally made it to the FDNY it was a long hard road and i am so happy i am here!! I went to an old house of yours L-126 in jamaica queens. The guys have your picture everywhere and they touch the big picture mom gave em everytime they go on a run!! I want to thank you for everything you have ever done for me as a father and i know the guys @ L-126 will pass on the knowlege that you have passed on to them….i have been picking their brains and they have been extremely happy to answer all my questions they loved you so much that i know i am in great hands!! I love you and know you ll always be there with me when it is time. Thanks again for all you have done for our family and showing us what family is all about. We miss you and I will see you when “it is my time” but…..that wont be for awhile! LOVE DANNY

 

 

Brian Hickey

Brian Hickey Fireman WTC

Age:

47

Occupation:

Rescue 1 Squad, Captain

Worked for:

FDNY

Originally from:

Resided in:

Bethpage, NY

School:

College:

Submitted by: Irish Tribute ()


Other links: F.D.N.Y. Tribute

[ Photo album ]

 

More Tributes

 


From NY Times Dec 18, 2001

‘Brian Hickey: Unspoken Devotion’

Sign Brian Hickey’s Guest Book
Read and add to a collection of tributes at Legacy.com.

here is no telling how many New Yorkers are walking around because Capt. Brian Hickey became a New York City firefighter 20 years ago. He commanded Rescue Company 4, which rushes to every major fire in Queens, not to fight flames, but to save trapped civilians and firefighters.

It has always been among the department’s most dangerous jobs. Two of his men were killed in Astoria last Father’s Day, and another died with him at 2 World Trade Center on Sept. 11.

Yet the 47-year-old captain, who had suffered burns and other injuries many times on the job, never dwelled on the dangers. Instead, he spoke with pride of the brotherhood (women included) of firefighters.

“It means they are ready to lay down their lives for one another,” his wife, Donna, said. “They all knew it. It was something unspoken among them.”

He was also a volunteer firefighter in Bethpage, N.Y., where he grew up, married his high school sweetheart and had four children: Danny, 23; Dennis, 18; Jaclyn, 16; and Kevin, 10.

In 1992, Captain Hickey and his only brother, Raymond, created “Brothers in Battle,” a 45-minute video documentary about firefighting. It is still used in training.

In 1993, Raymond died of cancer. “Brian was at his side for 11 months,” Mrs. Hickey recalled. “I’ve never seen such love and compassion.”

— Anon (Friend { })
18 Jan 2002

 


From NY Daily News, March 11, 2002

For six months, every member of the Hickey family has been jolted by the ringing of the phone.

The call, which they pray for even as they dread it, could be from members of Rescue 4 saying they have finally found their captain, Brian Hickey.

Fire Captain Brian Hickey’s wife, Donna (l.), views stained glass held by his father, Raymond, who created it, in Bethpage, L.I., home.
But until that call comes, the Hickey family does not plan to hold a memorial service.

“When they tell me it’s quitting time, then I’ll do what I have to do,” Hickey’s widow, Donna Hickey, said last week. “I felt from the beginning he deserves the highest honor. If that means I have to wait, then I’ll wait.

“You’re just waiting for the worst day of your life to come.”

Of the 343 FDNY members who died Sept. 11, the bodies of 194 have not been found; 21 of their families have not held a memorial service.

Letting go of her high school sweetheart will not be easy for Donna Hickey. She and her children, Daniel, 23, Dennis, 18, and Jackie, 16, long for the familiar.

The way Brian’s duffel bag smelled of smoke when he came home from his Woodside, Queens, firehouse. Or the way he sang “Mack the Knife” as loud as he could every time he heard the tune. The way he danced with his daughter at her Sweet 16 party to “Lady in Red.”

“We were so blessed to have him,” Donna said.

Promoted Posthumously

Nicknamed The Nucleus because of the way people were drawn to him in dangerous situations, Brian Hickey, a 20-year veteran of the FDNY, was posthumously promoted to battalion chief after Sept. 11.

He was among 14 firefighters injured battling a blaze caused by an explosion at a Queens hardware store Father’s Day. Three firefighters died.

He and four of his men were hurtled into the ceiling and buried in bricks. Hickey led his men to safety by following a sliver of light through the dust and pulverized mortar.

Then he went back into the burning building to join those frantically digging through the debris for the missing firefighters.

“I went right back to work,” Brian recalled in a TV interview in the days after the blast. “I had some aches and pains, but we have to, we need to, get our brothers out and that’s the tradition of the city Fire Department. We don’t leave without them.”

Now the men of Rescue 4 and Rescue 3 B who were with Brian on Sept. 11 B are refusing to leave Ground Zero without their captain. Some have even begun saying one of his favorite lines, “Strength of Heart,” a motto taken from the movie “Glory.”

Sons’ Room a Shrine

Brian had borrowed the line from his brother Ray, a film producer who died of cancer in 1992 at age 34, shortly after a movie the siblings made together B “FDNY: Brothers in Battle” B aired on the Arts & Entertainment cable channel.

Ray Hickey Sr., 72, has turned his sons’ childhood bedroom in Bethpage, L.I., into a shrine. The walls are filled with pictures of them as boys, and as men.

In the center of the room is a steel cross, welded by firefighters from a beam found at Ground Zero.

“I’m still a rich man,” their father said. “I was richer, I have to say that, but I’m still rich. I have a wonderful family.”

Three weeks after the attacks, Hickey’s parents went to Ground Zero, wearing hardhats with their son’s name.

“It was our own personal funeral,” said Florence Hickey, 80. “As a mother, you are always waiting for your children. Now I’m waiting for Brian.”

The parents take solace in their memories, like the night Brian told his father how grateful he was be a city firefighter.

“I told him, ‘Son, someday you will be a chief on this job, and you’ll have a plaque on your desk reading, ‘BC BC Hickey’ because his middle name was Christopher so it would be Battalion Chief Brian Christopher Hickey,” his father said.

When his son was promoted posthumously, the senior Hickey had the plaque made. “He earned it,” his father said. “But he never saw it.”

— Anon (Friend { })
11 Mar 2002

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One Response to “HEROES– The 2996 Project for 9/11”

  1. Cialis Says:

    vhsIwg Excellent article, I will take note. Many thanks for the story!

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