Long Island neighbors of the FDNY firefighter who lost his life trying to save others are mourning and remembering him as a father, a husband and a hero.
Firefighter William Tolley, a 14-year veteran of the FDNY, died Thursday after falling several stories while containing an apartment fire in Queens.
“Anyone who puts on a uniform like that and goes out there and is willing to protect people, not even just their family but people they don’t know, they’re heroes,” said Jack Rewkowski, Tolley’s Bethpage neighbor..
Tolley, the 1,147th FDNY firefighter to die in the line of duty, was working on ventilating the apartment building when he fell five stories to the ground below.
“It just makes me sad,” Rewkowski said. “When you have people willing to do that for a living protect us. We need more people like that. He is a hero.”
Tolley, who was a senior firefighter at Ladder 135/Engine 286, leaves behind a wife and an 8-year-old daughter.
As Tolley was being mourned, flags were at half-staff across the city. Complete strangers were showing up at ladder 135 to leave behind flowers and candles to remember him.
“A prayer to his family,” Denise Nicoletti of Ridgewood said. “Strength that they’ll get through this.”