The 93rd annual Fleischmann Fire Remembrance Ceremony was held yesterday at the Centennial Hose firehouse, 701 Washington St., Peekskill, under the direction of Deputy Chief John Esposito.
The memorial is held each year to commemorate the seven firefighters who lost their lives Aug. 1, 1918, when a wall inside the burning Fleishmann Company building collapsed and buried five members of Cortlandt Hook and Ladder Co. and two members of Centennial Hose. The event remains the greatest firefighting tragedy in Peekskill's history.
Speakers included Peekskill Mayor Mary Foster and Westchester County Legislator John Testa. Joe Brady added music to the ceremony with his bagpipe playing.
The remembrance service, originally scheduled at the site of the firefighters memorial stone on John Walsh Boulevard, was forced indoors at Centennial Hose after the evening’s weather, consisting of ferocious downpours and hail, prevented an outdoor ceremony.
The storm did more than just adjust the event’s schedule.
Coincidentally, lightning caused a power line to fall directly across from the outdoor memorial site, as well as a fire on the same road, which called out members of both the Peekskill and Buchanan fire departments to help deal with the downed wires, fire and traffic.
The weather-related issues caused attendance at the memorial service to fall to a fraction of what it had been in previous years, since many firefighters and volunteers who would have been there otherwise were working at the time.
An abridged version of the original ceremony took place a little after 7 p.m. and consisted of the reading of the names of each firefighter who died on that fateful August day -- Surgeon Charles Greene, Capt. Clarence Lockwood, 1st Lt. James Selleck, 2nd Lt. Louis Barmore, and Firefighters George Casseles, John Torpy and Walter Cole. A bell was rung once for each member as well.
“It’s important that we remember that firefighters' jobs are very dangerous, and we should acknowledge those who dedicate themselves to the safety of the Peekskill community,” Testa said.