Fiery passion abounds at memorial for fallen heroes

JAD SLEIMAN / DAILY NEWS STAFF Diane Neary, the widow of Lt. Robert Neary, comforts Capt. Michael Goodwin's daughter, Dorothy (right), on Tuesday at a ceremony honoring the fallen firefighters.
JAD SLEIMAN / DAILY NEWS STAFF Diane Neary, the widow of Lt. Robert Neary, comforts Capt. Michael Goodwin's daughter, Dorothy (right), on Tuesday at a ceremony honoring the fallen firefighters.
Posted: April 11, 2013

TEARS OF sorrow and anger flowed Tuesday, as the families, friends and comrades of three fallen firefighters gathered outside City Hall to mark their passing and press the city for support.

Capt. Michael Goodwin was killed Saturday while fighting flames at Jack B. Fabrics at 4th and Fitzwater streets. His death came nearly a year to the day after Lt. Robert Neary and Firefighter Daniel Sweeney lost their lives battling a blaze at the site of the former Buck Hosiery factory in Kensington.

Goodwin's son, Michael Goodwin Jr., spoke briefly, thanking his father's fellow firefighters for their support.

"Today, we are here to honor these three men who died as heroes," he said. "That's how they should be celebrated, as heroes."

Neary's widow, Diane, faltered briefly at the start of her remarks before delivering a stinging indictment of city leadership for their shortcomings in supporting firefighters.

"I don't know when the city of Philadelphia will start and stop and think about what these men deserve," she said. "They deserve support, they deserve not a pat on the back, not broken words; they need to be paid their full due."

Philly's 2,100 firefighters and medics have worked without a pay raise or contract since 2009. A court arbitrator granted them one in 2010, but the city has appealed the decision, and claims the contract, which includes 3 percent yearly pay raises costing $200 million, is too expensive.

"I hope somebody up there hears what I have to say," Neary said, mentioning "our father in this City of Brotherly Love" and glaring up at the northeast corner of City Hall.

" has nothing but respect and love for Mrs. Neary, and he respects her opinion," said Nutter's spokesman, Mark McDonald, adding that the contract issues would be resolved in the near future. "That's a conversation for another day. Today, Philadelphians are remembering two firefighters, two heroes who died a year ago, and also remembering Capt. Goodwin."


On Twitter: @jad_sleiman

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