We all know that our first responders– firefighters, police, and EMS workers– face danger and unpredictable scenes every single day. It is a risk that they and their families are aware of with every good-morning kiss and goodnight embrace.

On the morning of September 27, members of the FDNY responded to a call of the odor of gas on West 234th Street in the Bronx. For any firefighter and their partners, you know how routine this kind of call is. Upon initial inspection, it was made clear how much gas was actually in the home and how dangerous this situation could quickly become.

When the home exploded, FDNY Battalion Chief Michael Fahy of Battalion 19 was hit with debris and later succumbed to his injuries at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Fahy was hired in 1999 and was promoted to Lieutenant in 2004, Captain in 2007, and finally Battalion Chief in 2012. He left behind three small children and a dedicated wife.

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The ambition and dedication that Michael Fahy displayed in his career and his family life can be seen in many of the firefighters that we send off to their houses every single morning and afternoon. The pride in the job and love for family can be seen in our firefighters. And that is why this death hit home for me and my family very hard. I never met the man, nor have I had any contact with his family. Regardless, this loss hits close to home, and so, I’ve cried.

Even though I tried to find the idea, the FDNY is one big family. Fahy was not wildly removed from my firefighter, nor my firefighter from him. In all departments, there are the brave, honorable men and women of departments across the country that put their lives on the line every single day, and inspire generations of up-and-coming heroes. For each of our first responders, there is a Chief, a Captain, a mentor who dedicates his life to protecting others. Sometimes, these mentors do not go home at the end of the day. Painfully, our first responder may not come home, as well.

We must now keep in mind that it is not just the big, raging fires that can be threatening. A routine call can turn out to be anything but routine, very quickly. The passing of an active member of the FDNY forced me to summon back into memory all of the very real fears and apprehensions I felt when The Man first got his run letter. Does it change my dedication to him? No. It simply made me hold him closer, kiss him deeper, and love him with more of my soul.

I cannot imagine the pain and heartache that wife Fiona Fahy must be feeling. She was half of a partnership in life, love, parenting, and the fire life. She likely kissed her husband as he left for work the previous day, and reminded him of an upcoming meal, event, milestone. His children left for school thinking that dinner would be with mom that night, but dad would be home for dinner the next night, and likely some homework help or playing catch.

And just like that, a father, a best friend, a husband, a son, a friend was gone. Just like that, life changed.

In our history, I have gone to bed with anger in my belly. And out of spite, I’ve let The Man only kiss my cheek before leaving for work. And I promise, with every fiber of my being that I will never do that again.

Communicating our issues and annoyances is still key, but this, like most losses, highlights how the resolution is all that matters. The Man is my heart and soul, and I am his. We must put this above all else.

As members of a local fire department, we need to remember the risks and potential sacrifices that our family may be called to make. With these in mind, we cannot lead a life of fear, but a life of gratitude and deeper love and compassion.

(Header image courtesy of FDNY’s Instagram)