The fire happened in 1999, but it is still fresh in the minds of those who lost loved ones that day. Six firefighters were killed, including Jerry Lucey and Lt. Tommy Spencer who had many mutual friends.
One of those friends and family members was Denis Leary. He was cousins with Lucey; childhood friend and high school classmate of Spencer. Much like his hometown, the loss was too much for him to walk away from it unchanged. So Leary decided to do something about it.
"At the heart of all the Leary Foundation’s initiatives is the desire to give firefighters a better chance of returning home to their families at the end of the day," says Leary. "And to ensure that each one of us and our loved ones will be more likely to survive a life-threatening fire."
Since 2000, The Leary Firefighters Foundation has committed more than $10 million to crucial programs for fire departments in New York; Boston; Worcester, Mass.; and New Orleans. Two of the largest projects included developing the FDNY Fire Academy on Randall's Island and the New Orleans Restoration Project, which restored 11 firehouses that has been rendered uninhabitable.
The latter effort was accomplished by pulling together volunteer union labor, construction material donations, and corporate support. It was a critical project in that the firefighters had taken to working long days and sleepless nights out of trailers. Their morale was low and response times diminished until the firehouses were restored.
It isn't the first time that the foundation has come to the rescue of rescuers and their families. In fact, the foundation wasn't even a year old before it became a pivotal player in providing support after Sept. 11, 2001. The Leary Foundation immediately established The Fund For New York's Bravest.
The fund was explicit in its goal. The Leary Foundation, even though it was in its infancy and still working diligently in Worcester, wanted to raise money for the families of the 343 firefighters who perished in the line of duty. The Fund for New York’s Bravest raised over $1.9 million before it was closed in 2003, and every dollar went to the families of those firefighters.
At the same time, one of the events that kicked off fundraising efforts continued to honor firefighters and raise funds for equipment and advanced first-responder training. This included partnering with FDNY's Fire Safety Education Fund to purchase a badly needed Mobile Command Center, another example that only scratches the surface of what it had accomplished.
There are dozens of different projects and communities that the The Leary Foundation has worked with for more than a decade. While they provide a modest overview, anyone looking into the foundation will find scores of tangible contributions that not only benefit firefighters immediately but for years to come.
A few graphs about actor Denis Leary.
While some people immediately associate actor Denis Leary with his television series Rescue Me and believe she show sparked his interest in assisting firefighters, it was actually the other way around. He believed the series would bring more attention to the plight of firefighters.
He has a long career as a comedian and actor, and became an important supporter of the film Burn as an executive producer. He is currently writing an American adaption of the British comedy called Sirens, which is about paramedics. Recently, he donated many of the props used for Rescue Me to the Smithsonian.
The Leary Firefighters Foundation Is A Liquid Hip Good Will Pick.
At least once a month, Liquid Hip highlights good will efforts undertaken by people with big hearts. We don't score them. That belongs to you.
We chose The Leary Firefighters Foundation because of its impossibly long and growing list of tangible outcomes for firefighters. Believe it or not, firefighters are among the most neglected areas of public safety despite putting their lives on the line every time a fire call comes into a firehouse.
Aside from the that obvious reason, Leary did an extraordinary thing in finding such a positive way to deal with an overwhelming loss to his hometown. And then, even more extraordinarily, he expanded his efforts nationwide. We think that's remarkable. You can donate directly to The Leary Firefighters Foundation here. The foundation often allows for donations to be directed.