Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh and Syracuse Fire Chief Michael Monds announced the Syracuse Fire Department (SFD) will hold a virtual memorial at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 3., remembering the lives lost in the 1939 Collins Block fire. The commemoration, to be streamed on the SFD’s Facebook page in place of the annual ceremony at Firefighters Park, will mark the 82nd anniversary of the tragic event, the single deadliest fire in SFD’s history.
Chief Monds, Syracuse Fire Fighters Association President Eric Yetman, members of the department and Mayor Walsh will be featured in a pre-recorded video tribute that will be shown in each firehouse for on and off-duty service members. The community is encouraged to join online. The production will include the formal laying of the wreaths at the Fire Fighters Memorial Park, commemorative speeches, and the reading of the names of each firefighter who made the ultimate sacrifice, losing their lives while in the line of duty.
“February 3 each year serves as a poignant reminder of the courage of those who serve as firefighters in the City of Syracuse and across our community,” said Mayor Walsh. “They rush into situations that pose a risk to their own safety to secure the safety of others, so it is only fitting that not even a pandemic would prevent us from honoring their great sacrifice. Our gratitude will always remain for the Collins Block nine, their families and all others we have lost while faithfully serving the public.”
“We will never forget the Syracuse firefighters who have paid the ultimate sacrifice protecting our city. I offer my deepest condolences, prayers, and eternal gratitude for their sacrifice,” said Chief Monds. “To the friends and families of our fallen firefighter heroes, this memorial service is also a tribute and testament to you as your names do not appear on any memorials. I salute your courage for enduring the pain of losing someone so close who gave their life to help somebody else.”
On that fateful day in 1939, service members responded to a fire emergency at the Collins apartment building located at 225 E. Genesee St. While in the building at the scene of the fire, the roof of the cellar collapsed on eight firefighters, fatally pinning them beneath tons of bricks and debris. Three days later on Feb. 6, 1939, a ninth member passed away from a heart attack believed to be caused by the work done while fighting the fire.