An Inwood firefighter was hailed Saturday as a hero who died doing what he loved — protecting others.
Davis Avenue at Elm Road in Inwood was renamed Joseph Sanford Jr. Avenue at a ceremony that drew more than 120 people, including local firefighters, and Sanford’s family and friends.
Jacqueline Sanford, the firefighter’s widow, called the street-renaming “a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man.”
The family continues to live on the street where the dedication was held.
“I’m proud of my father. He deserved everything that everyone has ever done for him,” said his daughter, Janisha Sanford, 21.
In December 2014, Joseph Sanford, 43, responded to a raging house fire in Woodmere and was critically injured when he fell through a hole on the first floor, landing in the basement. He died days later.
During the 11 a.m. ceremony, many praised Sanford for putting his life before others and being a pillar in the community.
The Alabama native worked for the Nassau County Public Works Department and was an Inwood Fire Department volunteer for 17 years, including a stint as an assistant chief.
“He was a cornerstone of several youth programs” and befriended many with an “infectious smile,” said the fire department’s chaplain, Luke Magliaro.
“He epitomized the word ‘hero,’ ” said Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony J. Santino.
Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby said: “We’re here honoring a man who gave his all for all of us.”
A neighbor, Gayle Saldutti, 56, said Sanford was a role model for her son. “This is an honor, and he would be thrilled,” she said at the ceremony.
Inwood Fire Chief Frank Parise said Sanford left a big hole in the heart of the department.
“There’s nothing we can do to bring him back,” he said. “But it’s days like this where we can honor him.”