Public mourns firefighter who fell to his death while battling a blaze in Ridgewood

Firefighters outside Wyckoff Heights Medical Center on Thursday night as the body of Firefighter William Tolley is transferred.
Photo via Twitter/@FDNY

Members of the public are mourning the loss of one of New York’s Bravest who fell five stories to his death while fighting a fire in Ridgewood.

Firefighter William Tolley, a 14-year veteran of Ladder Company 135 based in Glendale (known as the Myrtle Turtles), was one of hundreds of firefighters who responded to a fire inside a five-story building at the corner of Wyckoff and Putnam avenues on April 20. According to police sources, Tolley ascended up a bucket ladder to work on the fire from the roof when he fell.

Tolley was rushed to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, where he died shortly after. Tolley is survived by his wife, Maria, his 8-year-old daughter Bella, his brother Bobbie and his parents. He was 42 years old.

“I join with all FDNY members in honoring the memory of our brother who unfortunately lost his life in the line of duty earlier today,” said Jake Lemonda, president of the FDNY-Uniformed Officers Foundation. “This is an extremely dangerous job that our dedicated members put their lives on the line every day to protect the residents of the City of New York. On behalf of the officers union, I offer condolences to his family and friends.”

To honor Tolley’s memory, the FDNY Foundation has started the Firefighter William Tolley’s Children’s Educational Fund, which will support Tolley’s daughter.

Many public officials from across the borough have offered their prayers and support not only to Tolley’s family, but also to the FDNY.

“Everyone is in a state of shock and grief. And, to his family, we say we will stand with you not only today, but in the days ahead, and for years and years to come,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This is what the FDNY does – stays by families through everything that comes ahead. Our hearts go out as well to all members of the FDNY who are feeling the loss deeply right now, especially the members of Ladder 135 Engine 286 in Ridgewood, where William was stationed.”

This is a truly heartbreaking loss for the New York City Fire Department and the Glendale community. Firefighter William Tolley, a member of our very own Myrtle Turtles, E286/L135, spent 14 years protecting and saving the lives of our neighbors,” said Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley. “The members of his firehouse will need our community’s support during this very difficult time. My prayers are with his family and the Department.”

Every day, members of the New York City Fire Department protect our neighborhoods and prevent tragedies. Placing one’s life on the line to save others shows a character of tremendous courage and compassion,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “My thoughts are with William Tolley’s family and loved ones at this difficult time. He was a dedicated firefighter whose service helped keep us all safe. May his memory be eternal.”

“We deeply mourn Mr. Tolley’s sudden loss, and salute the courage he displayed and sacrifices he made not just today, but every single day throughout his 14 years of service to the people of the City of New York,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “Our prayers are with his family at this time, especially his wife, his young daughter, his brother and his parents. Our thoughts are also with the rest of his family, friends and the entire FDNY community.”

FDNY William Tolley bravely died in the line of duty, serving New Yorkers and keeping our city safe,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Moments like these are a stark reminder of the sacrifice our Bravest put themselves through to keep our city safe and our thoughts and prayers are with the FDNY, our city’s first responders and all of William Tolley’s loved ones during this sad time.”

Members of the community have taken to social media to share their condolences with Tolley’s family and honor his memory as a hero.