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Firefighter memorial bill awaits Cuomo OK

In 2006, Paul Brady was working atop a fire engine in Malverne when someone accidentally moved the heavy vehicle, causing the 42-year-old to fall to his death. Six years later, Long Island firefighters and legislators still are struggling to add his name to the Fallen Firefighters Memorial wall in Albany.

Legislation created in part to address Brady's case is headed back to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo after he vetoed a previous version on Jan. 2. This time, sponsor Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) said Cuomo has verbally agreed to sign the bill. "I'm looking forward now -- we are going to engrave [Brady's] name on the wall," Weisenberg said.

Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said the governor's office will review the bill.

The new version passed in the Senate on Tuesday, and in the Assembly last week. A spokesman for sponsor Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said the bill now makes no distinction between volunteer and paid firefighters as it had before, which Cuomo cited in vetoing the bill.

"We're anxiously awaiting the governor's signature on this bill. We've been waiting for years," said Malverne firefighter Dave Gildea, the department's public information officer.

Selden firefighter Robert McConville, vice president of the Fireman's Association of the State of New York, said his organization is grateful the bill has passed and confident Cuomo will sign it.

But Michael McManus, president of the New York State Professional Firefighters Association, said his group is concerned the makeup of the selection committee will change.

Brady, Huntington Fire Department chaplain Richard Holst and Sayville firefighter Wilbur Ritter did not receive immediate approval for the memorial because they did not die in the act of fighting fires, as the committee deemed necessary for recognition. The new legislation clarifies the definition of death on duty.

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