Gov. Andrew Cuomo will once again decide if the names of fallen volunteer firefighters including Malverne's Paul Brady will be engraved on a New York State memorial.
Although Cuomo when it came across his desk in early January, after passing both the Senate and the House, the legislation has been given .
Roughly a week after the new version of the bill — co-sponsored by Harvey Weisenberg, D-Long Beach with fellow assemblyman Brian Curran, R-Lynbrook — their counterparts in the Senate have done the same.
Senate Bill 7458, which was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), passed in the Senate Tuesday.
"Our firefighters put their lives on the line each and every time they respond to a distress call,” Sen. Skelos said. “They all deserve our respect, and those [who] give their lives in the service of others while in the line of duty deserve to be included in a lasting memorial such as the New York State Fallen Firefighters Memorial.”
The Fallen Firefighters Memorial recognizes those firefighters from throughout the state who made the ultimate sacrifice for their community, but the Malverne Volunteer Fire Department's requests to add fallen member Paul Brady's name to the monument were repeatedly denied.
Brady, 42, a six-year veteran of the department, was killed on June 30, 2006 in an accident while performing training activities inside the firehouse. He was atop a heavy rescue fire truck performing maintenance activities as part of the training, when another firefighter, unaware of Brady's presence, began to drive the truck, causing him to hit a ceiling beam and fall off. He suffered serious internal injuries, which led to his death later that day.
The United States Department of Justice and the New York State Workers' Compensation Board determined that Brady died in the line of duty and the latter awarded death benefits to his widow. National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and Nassau County honored Brady, but the New York State Fallen Firefighter Memorial Committee refused to add his name to their monument in Albany, denying multiple requests. This led to legislative action.
It is uncertain when the new and improved Brady Bill will be sent to Cuomo, and whether or not he will sign it or veto it again. When he shot down the first version of the bill on Jan. 2, he wrote:
"I am sympathetic to the families and colleagues of every firefighter who has died in circumstances that do not make that firefighter eligible for inclusion on the State Memorial Wall, and this was a very difficult decision, but there should not be one set of eligibility criteria for volunteer firefighters and another for paid firefighters."
Weisenberg told Patch that he met with Cuomo in the days after he vetoed the original version. He said he worked with Cuomo’s people to address the concerns in the bill, mainly that it appeared to create separate criteria for paid and volunteer firefighters, and amended it to include all firefighters who have perished in the line of duty on the wall.
The longtime assemblyman from Long Beach said he couldn’t get Cuomo to guarantee he would sign the bill if the changes were made, but according to Weisenberg, the governor did say that “when given all the evidence of what took place and the existence of the committee … that people who die in the line of duty, whether paid or volunteer, belong on the memorial."