AT A GLANCE

  • Steven Pollard has been a FDNY member for just a year and a half.
  • He came from a family of firefighters, including his father and brother.
  • He died trying to help survivors of a rollover crash on the Mill Basin Bridge.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Purple and black bunting hung above Ladder Company 170 on Monday night as firefighters saluted a 30-year-old firefighter killed in the line of duty Sunday while responding to a crash in Brooklyn.

Officials say firefighter Steven Pollard was trying to climb over the double concrete jersey barriers to the westbound lanes of the Westbound Belt Parkway when he slipped through a gap on the Mill Basin Bridge and fell more than 50 feet to his death.

Firefighter Steven Pollard, 30, was killed in the line of duty while responding to a crash on the Belt Parkway’s Mill Basin Bridge on Jan. 6, 2019. (Credit: FDNY)

Pollard was stationed at Ladder 170 in Canarsie and had been a member of the FDNY for just a year and a half.

“As his family mourns him, the department mourns him and certainly the citizens of our city mourn him,” Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro told reporters overnight. “To lose a member just at the beginning of his career like this is devastating to us.”

Web Extra: Mayor De Blasio, Fire Commissioner Nigro Discuss Firefighter Pollard’s Death 

Pollard was responding to a two-car accident that seriously injured two males on the westbound side of the bridge at around 10 p.m. He was attempting to cross from the eastbound side when he “slipped through a gap in that roadway and fell to the ground approximately 52 feet below,” according to Nigro.

Fire officials said the gap was approximately 2 1/2 to 3 feet wide. Investigators are now working to determine whether construction or ice in the area were factors.

“This is a dangerous job, we all know that,” said FDNY Captain James Quinn. “Any time we go out on a run there’s nothing routine about it, you never know what we’re gonna run into. But we love this job and Steven loved this job.”

A Survivor’s Guilt

 

Travis Simms, a correction officer at Rikers Island, is thankful he survived a rollover crash Sunday night will little more than cuts on his hands. He says the guilt we feels in knowing Pollard died trying to help him is crippling.

“It’s only natural and human to feel a certain way about it because at the end of the day I was involved,” said Simms. “It just weighs heavy on my heart what happened to firefighter Pollard.

“I didn’t see him fall down but I saw a few come over and then I heard the commotion, just ‘Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God,'” he said. “When I arrived at the hospital that’s when they told me, he didn’t make it.”

Simms says he knows Pollard died simply doing his job.

“He’s definitely my hero and hopefully I can say something to the family, and may he rest in peace,” he said.

Remembering One Of Their Own

On Monday morning, there was a procession from Kings County Hospital to the medical examiner’s office in Manhattan. Firefighters lined the street waiting for their fallen brother, and at Ladder 170 firefighters left flowers and regards.

“I came here to pay respect because the FDNY is a family,” one firefighter said. “All you have to do is say you’re a firefighter and guess what? You’re family. You’re brothers. That’s it.”

Pollard had only been a firefighter for a year and a half, but he is remembered as a hard worker hoping to follow in the footsteps of his father, Ray Pollard, who served 32 years with the FDNY, and his brother Ray Jr. who is now in his 11th year with department.

“He was a great young man, always came to work happy, always had a smile on his face,” said Lt. Philip Miller. “He would’ve made a great leader.”

Fellow firefighters at Pollard’s firehouse are nicknamed “Canarsie’s bravest.” It’s the same station that lost three firefighters trying to rescue an elderly woman from a burning building in Brooklyn back in 1998.

“Every day you live in your houses and were the ones running in when everyone else is running out,” one firefighter said.

Bunting Ceremony For FDNY Firefighter Steven Pollard

“He devoted his life to the people of our city, like his brother, like his dad,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said early Monday. “He was trying to do such a good, important thing, and it’s just really painful.”

The mayor ordered all flags in the city to be flown at half staff to honor Pollard.

“Steven was an example of an exemplary firefighter and young man who placed service to his community above all else,” FDNY Uniformed Fire Officers Association President Jake Lemonda said in a statement. “Though he had only been on the job a short time, his distinguished impact on his firehouse will be his eternal legacy in the Fire Department of New York, and we will forever honor his memory by following the example he set.”

Pollard is the 1,151st firefighter to give his life in the service of the FDNY.

Funeral arrangements were being made and a bunting ceremony was expected at Pollard’s firehouse on Monday afternoon. The New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund, also known as Answer the Call, is donating $25,000 to Pollard’s family.