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Four fallen firefighters to be honored April 9 at Whitman School
Four fallen firefighters to be honored April 9 at Whitman SchoolApril 05, 2005Sara Millersemortim@syr.edu
At 12:46 a.m. on April 9, 1978, the Syracuse Fire Department received a call reporting a fire at 701 University Ave., a home occupied at the time by Syracuse University students in 10 apartments. In those early morning hours, four Syracuse firefighters perished in the performance of their duty, searching for people they did not know.
The place where a tragedy happened 27 years ago is now home to the new building for the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. To honor these fallen heroes, a memorial plaque will be permanently installed in the concourse level of the building and will be unveiled at a ceremony and reception April 9, hosted by SU and Syracuse Fire Fighters Association Local 280, IAFF.
The reception will be held on the fourth floor of the Whitman School’s building, with a special ceremony unveiling the plaque on the concourse level. At the reception, remarks will be offered by Matthew J. Driscoll, mayor of the City of Syracuse; John Cowin, chief of the City of Syracuse Fire Department; James Ennis, president of the Syracuse Fire Fighters Association; Robert H. Cole Jr. LAW’78, who lived in the house at the time of the fire; Chancellor Nancy Cantor; and family members of the honored firefighters. Members of the Syracuse Fire Department will also attend.
“This plaque reminds us that each and every time firefighters respond to an emergency they put their lives on the line for the safety of the residents of this City,” says Mayor Driscoll. “I would like to recognize and thank all of the members of the Syracuse Fire Department for their courage and sacrifice, as we honor the memory of firefighters who have passed while in the service of our great city. These four fallen firefighters are in our thoughts, and it is our fervent prayer that tragedies like this won’t ever happen again.”
The memorial and reception will honor the courage of firefighters Stanley L. Duda, 34; Michael J. Petragnani, 27; Frank Porpiglio Jr., 24; and Robert E. Schuler, 31-four young men in the prime of their careers, with families of their own and an extended family of co-workers who had their hearts broken that morning.
“These firefighters, all young men, risked and lost their lives searching for our students,” says Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor. “The plaque will signify our everlasting gratitude and admiration.”
Ennis says that working with the University on this memorial is the culmination of a pledge he made to the widows and family members of the four firefighters at the 20th anniversary memorial service in 1998. “At that time, I pledged to these families that I would pursue an appropriate memorial for these firefighters,” says Ennis. “The University-with the continued assistance from former Whitman School Dean George Burman and former University College (UC) Dean Charles K. Barletta-heard this wish and has embraced this project with us to establish a permanent remembrance to honor these heroes. For 27 years, the families of these departed firefighters have had nothing tangible to memorialize their loss, so this is the first opportunity for the widows, children and now grandchildren of these heroes to be remembered.”