It was an emotional scene outside Engine 7, Ladder 10 at Kensington and Castor avenues this afternoon as the family of a firefighter killed in a five-alarm warehouse blaze yesterday visited a memorial set up in the station's driveway.
Firefighters lined up to salute the mourning family members as they passed the collection of candles, balloons and flowers, crowned by two empty helmets that served as a poignant reminder of the lives lost.
The station's Facebook page is filled with hundreds of comments expressing an outpouring of support from both fellow public servants and civilians. "Their death is not in vain and they will always be remembered for their bravery," one user wrote. "Thank you for putting us first ... we will never forget the unconditional love you have for your job," posted another.
Lt. Robert Neary and firefighter Daniel Sweeney were killed in a partial building collapse while inspecting a furniture warehouse adjacent to the warehouse where the blaze began. Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said yesterday that he had driven to scenes with Neary many times and had fond memories of the man.
Neary, a 37-year department veteran, was a Philadelphia Police officer for three years and an Army reservist for 10 years. He leaves behind a wife and three children.
Neary's viewing and memorial will be held Friday, April 13 at 4 p.m. and Saturday, April 14 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Givinish Funeral Home, 10975 Academy Road. His interment will be private.
Daniel Sweeney was a second-generation member of the force who followed in the footsteps of his father, retired Capt. David Sweeney. Though he joined the department in 2006, he had already received four commendations for high-profile rescues.
Sweeney's viewing will be held Friday, April 13 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday, April 14 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., followed by an 11 a.m. service, at St. Cecila's Church, 535 Rhawn Street. He will be interred immediately following the service at Holy Sepulchre Cemetary, 4001 W. Cheltenham Avenue.
Mayor Michael Nutter visited the scene of the fire last night after he returned from a conference in Tallahassee, Fla. He ordered yesterday that all city flags be flown at half mast for 30 days in remembrance of the fallen men. Gov. Tom Corbett agreed to lower flags across the state when the firefighters' memorial services are held.
District Attorney Seth Williams reportedly said today that he is waiting until the cause of the fire is determined to decide whether there is sufficient basis for criminal charges against the property owners or anyone else who may be responsible.