The American flag that proudly flies over Myrtle Avenue at the Engine Company 286/Ladder Company 135 firehouse in Glendale now stands at half-mast as firefighters mourn the death of Firefighter William Tolley, who fell five stories while battling a blaze in a building in Ridgewood Thursday afternoon.
Throughout Friday, fire trucks, police cars and officers lined the street as workers prepared the façade of the firehouse for the memorial black and purple bunting that was hung during a ceremony in the evening at the quarters located at 66-44 Myrtle Ave.
Before the ceremony, a memorial was quickly set up as news of Tolley’s fatal fall spread. Fellow firefighters and local residents placed flowers, candles, and notes of condolence outside the fire station.
One 4-year-old girl came with her mother to express their sorrow. Suehailey Rotha-Santiago was on her way to preschool on Friday morning when her mother brought her to the firehouse with a bouquet of flowers. Rotha-Santiago’s pre-K class recently visited Ladder Company 135 — lovingly known as the Myrtle Turtles — on a school trip, where they learned what the firefighters do.
Tolley was a 14-year veteran of the FDNY and spent his entire career with Ladder 135. He died on Thursday, April 20, when he fell while fighting a two-alarm fire at 16-15 Putnam Ave.
The cause his fall is currently under investigation.
Photos by Robert Stridiron: