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Firefighter dies after fall from burning New York City apartment building

by: Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk Updated:

New York City Fire Department firefighter William Tolley, 42, died on Thursday, April 20, 2017, after he fell from an apartment building while battling a blaze in Queens.
New York City Fire Department

NEW YORK - A veteran firefighter died in the line of duty Thursday when he fell from the roof of a five-story apartment building while fighting a fire in New York City.

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William Tolley, 42, was critically injured while battling a 2-alarm fire in Queens on Thursday afternoon, the New York City Fire Department said. He was taken to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, where he died of his injuries.

He is survived by his wife, Marie, and his daughter, Isabella.

“We lost another hero today,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday. “A man dedicated to protecting others gave his life to this work and, like all members of the FDNY, understood every single day that he was putting his life on the line, but he did it willingly in the service of others.”

Firefighters were called around 2:20 p.m. to respond to a fire on the second floor of an apartment building on Putnam Avenue. Tolley was working on the roof with other firefighters to ventilate the building and protect higher floors when he fell, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

“It is a terrible tragedy for a department that’s certainly known more than its share of tragedies,” Nigro said.

Authorities are investigating the circumstances that led to Tolley’s death.

Tolley was with the New York City Fire Department for 14 years and most recently assigned to Ladder 135.

He was also the drummer of Internal Bleeding, a well-known heavy metal band, The New York Times reported.

Band members described Tolley as “the heartbeat of the band” in a Facebook post Thursday.

 

Our drummer, the heartbeat of the band, William Tolley died today. There are ZERO WORDS to describe the loss. He was a...

Posted by Internal Bleeding on Thursday, April 20, 2017

“There are zero words to describe the loss,” the post said. “He was a good, decent and honorable man who loved his friends, his family and the people he served. There will never be another like him. There are no words to describe the utter sadness and despair we feel right now.”

Tolley is the 1,147th member of the New York City Fire Department to die while serving the city, Nigro said.