Little Neck FDNY captain honored with street name

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A longtime Little Neck resident and 30-year Fire Department veteran killed on Sept. 11, 2001 was honored Saturday with a street named in his honor and a plaque dedicated in his memory at Engine Co. 320 in Bayside.

Capt. James Corrigan, 60, was one of four retired firefighters who broke windows at the World Trade Center’s day care center to rescue all the children trapped during the terror attacks. Only one of the four retired firemen survived.

In addition to working at firehouses in Manhattan, Corrigan served for about two years as captain of Engine Co. 320 on Francis Lewis Boulevard in Bayside before he retired in 1994.

“He gave over 30 years to the city of New York. I wanted it to be representative of what he did,” said Marie Corrigan, the captain’s wife, on why the street in front of the firehouse was named in his memory.

James Corrigan was serving as director of Fire and Life Services at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, and although he was not in his Tower One office when the first plane hit, the veteran firefighter and former police officer rushed into action with his colleagues, smashing windows to evacuate the children who could not access the clogged building exits.

After rescuing the children, Corrigan went with Battalion Chief Joseph Grzelak to see if the old command station in Tower One, decommissioned after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, could be reactivated to get building intercoms and elevators working. He made a final phone call to his son Brendan before the South Tower collapsed and communication was lost.

Friends, family and firefighters, including actor and former fireman Steve Buscemi, turned out for the renaming and plaque dedication Saturday.

Buscemi was a “probie,” or rookie fireman, under Corrigan at Engine 55 in Manhattan, said Marie Corrigan.

“He’s beyond a friend,” she said of Buscemi. “He’s part of the extended Fire Department family.”

A memorial mass in October 2001 and a funeral in April 2002 were held for Corrigan at St. Anastasia Church in Douglaston after his remains were finally recovered.

Corrigan’s son Sean, City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) were among those who spoke at Saturday’s ceremony, organized by Engine 320 Capt. Kevin Cassidy and Lt. Robert Aponte.

The Corrigans received an American flag that had been flown by a fighter plane over Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom as well as a sculpture of a firefighter from JHS 194 in Whitestone.

“I think it’s a great tribute, especially being at the firehouse,” said Sean Corrigan of the street name and plaque in his father’s honor. “He definitely won’t be forgotten.”

Corrigan and his two retired colleagues who were killed after saving the children in the day care center were posthumously reinstated to active duty status by Gov. George Pataki.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Updated 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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