A somber silence fell over Glendale on Friday night as members of Ladder Company 135 ascended in a bucket lift to hang the purple and black bunting over the doorway of the Myrtle Avenue firehouse.
Hundreds of Glendale residents and others turned out on April 21 for the bunting ceremony outside the headquarters of Engine Company 286/Ladder Company 135 to show their support for the extended family of William Tolley, who took a tragic fall on April 20 while battling a fire at a Ridgewood apartment building.
“The bunting that was just put up is a sign that this firehouse, and the whole Fire Department, is in mourning as of this day,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro.
Holding back tears and through cracking voices, firefighters from Tolley’s company remembered him as a man who was completely dedicated to his work, but as someone who knew how to have fun, too, highlighting his time as a drummer for a metal band.
Captain Rich Blasi of Ladder 135 was grateful for the 14 years Tolley spent with the “Myrtle Turtles,” calling him a “go-getter,” and for teaching new recruits the proper way to do their job and mentoring them.
New York’s Bravest also thanked the community for their support during this time of mourning.
Community leaders such as Vincent Arcuri and Ted Renz were on hand for the bunting ceremony, as well as local members of the 104th Precinct and elected officials Congresswoman Grace Meng and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley — who chairs the Council’s Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services, which oversees the Fire Department.
Tolley’s older brother, Robert, thanked his brother’s fellow firefighters for being there.
“I am the older brother of my baby brother, Firefighter William Tolley, who gave his life yesterday doing what he loved to do, serving the community, working with his brothers — the amazing men standing behind me today,” the elder Tolley said. “They were there with him in his final moments because I could not be, and I’ll always be grateful for that.”
Tolley’s wake and funeral will take place in his hometown of Bethpage, Long Island, next week.