While the fight continues to honor Long Island's fallen volunteer firefighters at the state memorial in Albany, supporters Thursday unveiled a memorial praising Nassau's late heroes.

The Nassau County Firefighters Museum in East Garden City revealed an interactive memorial honoring 138 Nassau firefighters killed in the line of duty, including 23 who died on Sept. 11.

"This means everything to us," said Malverne Fire Chief Richard Lang. "Having a memorial like this will enable the rest of Nassau County to remember the sacrifice . . . It's just a tremendous way of showing respect to firefighters who died in line of duty."

The memorial features a life-size statue of a firefighter holding a child in his arms. The man who posed for the statue is New York City firefighter Tom Gies, son of former Merrick Fire Chief Ron Gies, who died on Sept. 11.

"It's a beautiful, beautiful memorial," museum board chairman Angelo Catalano said of the memorial, paid for with a $250,000 state grant secured by Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach). "Everyone can see it; people can tangibly touch and see it."

One impetus for the memorial, Weisenberg said, was the death of Paul Brady. The Malverne firefighter was killed in 2006 when he was crushed on top of a rescue truck during a training exercise.

The board of the state Fallen Firefighters Memorial Wall in Albany rejected a request to add Brady's name to its wall because, it said, he died in a training mission, not fighting a fire.

Tom Cuff, the president of the Firemen's Association of the State of New York, said volunteer firefighters "separate themselves" from the rest of society once they take the firefighter's oath.

"When a person stands up and takes the oath to become a firefighter, that's the heroic action because from that moment on, he's exposing himself to grave danger," Cuff said.

Weisenberg, who helped write the law that established the state memorial, was incensed and said he is looking to have Brady's name added.

"We have Paul Brady, who died in a firehouse, he died in the line of duty . . . and they denied Paul Brady access to the wall in Albany," Weisenberg said. "It's terrible."

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