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City Island firefighter honored

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A City Island firefighter who made the ultimate sacrifice years after 9/11 was remembered recently with a plaque on the wall of firehouse where he served.

FDNY Lieutenant Mark McKay made the ultimate sacrifice in service of his city and his community.

Now, after his passing in April 2012 after a three-year battle with a rare form of cancer he developed from working on the “pile” in the weeks after September 11, 2001, firefighers remembered him with a plaque in Ladder 45 in Washington Heights.

His wife Belinda and his two children Melissa, 18, and Mark, 15, as well as his parents, Harry and Dolores McKay of Country Club, took part in the dedication ceremony.

The plaque was just one of many kindnesses extended to his family throughout the years of his battle with a rare form of cancer - Ewing’s Sarcoma - and the aftermath of his passing, his mother said.

“The Fire Department stays very close to their own,” she said, adding that the family appreciates not just the plaque, but other kindness his fellow firefighters offered to his family.

It even included making repairs on a home he had recently purchased on City Island and had begun renovating, as well as an endless stream of visitors to his bedside during a long illness at Montefiore Children’s Hospital and Calvary Hospital, she said. He was being treated at a children’s hospital because Ewing’s Sarcoma primarily affects children.

“They were there every day to bring us comfort,” she said.

During the course of a 21-year career, McKay worked at firehouses around the city including Engine 38, Truck 51, Truck 27, Rescue 4, and finally Ladder 45 for the final five years of his career.

His “brothers” at the firehouse remembered him as a man who lead the people under his charge by example, who had a boisterous personality, and loved to fish, they said.

“He brought experience, passion for firefighting, and ‘never say die’ type of attitude at a fire,” said fellow firefighter John Hipsman. “He was just very aggressive and always looking out for his men and his company”.

Hipsman remembered McKay as a very effective leader for the firefighters who would work with him and under his command.

“He lead by example...he had confidence, and as an officer you had to follow him,” he said. “He kept you out of harms way.”

Fellow firefighter and friend Bill Kirk was a fishing buddy.

“He was a bit boisterous, and very engaging,” said Kirk. “He had a good attitude and was always trying to do the right thing.”

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393
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CNG: Community Newspaper Group