Deputy Commissioner William Feehan, 71, was rumored to know the location of every single fire hydrant in New York City. When named Chief of Department in 1992, he was the first to have held every possible rank within the department. He was the oldest and highest ranking firefighter ever to die in the line of duty, with 42 years on the job.
A firefighter tells the story “about a synagogue fire in midtown a couple of years ago. There was a collapse inside the synagogue and a huge plume of smoke came up, and there was a thunderous roar, and everyone was getting out of the way, and here was Bill, running into the smoke and fire — and he was 70 years old!
A military history buff who had served in the army in Korea, Feehan would walk civil war battlefields on vacation. A widower, Feehan had four grown kids and six grandchildren. One of his sons followed him into the FDNY.