By Nathaniel Herz New York Newsday
When FDNY Lt. Patrick Sullivan of Massapequa Park was on duty at his Bronx firehouse, “you knew you were going to be taken care of,” his commanding officer said Thursday.So it made sense that every member of Ladder Company 58 — plus 150 other firefighters — attended Sullivan’s funeral Thursday in Massapequa.
“It’s like a brother,” said Jeff Sumcizk, 20, a firefighter from Syosset.
Sullivan, 58, a first responder to the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and father of two, died Saturday of leukemia, which the FDNY attributed to his work at Ground Zero, according to Sullivan’s commanding officer, Capt. Joseph A. Principio.
Sullivan’s case was classified as an “administrative line-of-duty” death, which means his family will receive the same benefits as if Sullivan had died while fighting a fire, Principio said.
At his funeral at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, Sullivan was remembered as a quiet but devoted father and husband, and an avid sports fan.
“He taught me how to cheer the Jets, and how to boo the Jets,” his son, Michael, said in his eulogy.
Principio, in his remarks, recalled Sullivan as “humble,” “honest,” and “capable.” He was a 27-year veteran of the FDNY, and spent 13 years with Ladder 58.
Nine months ago, Sullivan ended up in the hospital after feeling ill on the job, and “he never went home,” Principio said.
Sullivan — who ultimately required a bone-marrow transplant from his brother — was hospitalized at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and also spent time at Hope Lodge, a treatment center in Manhattan, friends said.
But Sullivan’s wife, Patricia, had the support of Ladder 58, which assigned a firefighter to her family “every single day for nine months,” Principio said.
“She never once had to take a train or drive” into the city, said family friend Peggy Stern, 55, of Manhattan. “They just did everything to make her life easier.”
Ladder 58 brought its fire engine to the funeral, and trucks from the Syosset and Massapequa fire departments strung an American flag over Merrick Road in Sullivan’s honor.
The roughly 200 firefighters in attendance wore full uniforms with white gloves and polished black shoes, and formed a receiving line that stretched nearly a full block, two deep in places. FDNY Chief Edward Kilduff was in attendance.
Sullivan’s death comes as the federal government this month added dozens of types of cancer to a list of illnesses that could stem from work at Ground Zero. Principio said that the health problems experienced by first responders are hard to ignore — especially since he worked at Ground Zero himself.
“It’s in the back of your mind,” he said. “You just continue to work, and serve the people of the city.”