The life of Capt. Thomas “Tommy” Thompson was commemorated Friday in an unveiling ceremony for a plaque dedicated to Bayside FDNY leader, who died Aug. 17, 2015 of cancer related to the post 9/11 cleanup at Ground Zero.
Loved ones, firefighters and elected officials came to the Engine 306 firehouse at 40-18 214th Place. Members of FDNY’s Pipes and Drums were at the firehouse to open the ceremony which began with a speech by FDNY Commissioner Dan Nigro followed by remarks from peers and Thompson’s son.
Chief-of-Department James Leonard said Thompson not only played a powerful role in the 306 house, but he also made an influential contribution to the department, which was expected to suffer for some time after 9/11.
“We were a great department before 9/11, but 9/11 took us to our knees. A lot of people didn’t know we would be able to recover from losing 343 members and massive retirements,” said Leonard, before directing his speech at Thompson’s wife and three children. “But people like Tommy Thompson stayed around. He was a senior member and we share the greatness this department is now because of people like your husband or your dad.”
Leonard said Thompson was at Engine 306 for 13 years, and over the course of his career had been awarded three citations for bravery.
Thompson’s son, Jeff, took the podium to say that it was important to remember that his father had died of cancer related to the time he spent searching for victims of the tragedy, but also searching for the remains of his fallen brothers. He noted that many firefighters were still battling illnesses as the result of their service.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said the ceremony was emotional because of his personal connection to the captain.
“He was a great guy. He was always concerned about Bayside and he fought to save this firehouse when the previous mayor was threatening to close it. He would always greet me on Bell Boulevard,” Avella said, explaining that Thompson’s duty to the community extended beyond the department and he had expressed interest in improving Bayside to the senator.
Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) said Thompson took a front seat during the two times in which the Bloomberg administration planned to shut down Engine 306 in 2009 and 2013.
“Look how large their territory is,” Vallone said, pointing at a map on the wall of the firehouse. “It’s huge. They always look at [the firehouse] as a luxury, but it’s a necessity.”
Vallone made reference the recent fire at Strawberry Farms in Whitestone and the rapid response of Engine 306, which would not be possible without the role Capt. Thompson played in maintaining the firehouse as an active dispatch point for emergency response.
A dedication to the late captain has been painted on the fire engine belonging to the 306.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall
©2016 Community News Group
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