Station #7 Memorial Plaque Dedication Ceremony 10/13/01
By Michael M. Walsh
As we all know, a memorial plaque has been mounted on most of our Firehouses. The station plaques were the idea of Dennis Kruger, who has gone above and beyond his duties as one of our directors at Local #798 I.A.F.F. with this project to pay lasting firefighters who have made the ultimate sacrifice and paved such a proud path for all of us to follow.

The first of the station plaques was mounted at Station #13 with an official memorial plaque dedication ceremony honoring the first SF Fire Fighter (J. Welch 1854) who died in the line of duty. This ceremony was funded by Local #798 to draw public attention to these plaques and what they represent to our department. When our plaque was mounted last year, Tony Rivera and myself discussed some ideas about a proper ceremony for “our guys”. We all decided a nice idea would be to attempt to locate any relatives of the men listed on our plaque to see if they would be interested in joining us for a plaque dedication ceremony. The response was an overwhelming yes! Most of the relatives I contacted have had no communication with the SFFD in years and were extremely appreciative that we were planning such a ceremony. Our Station #7 memorial plaque dedication ceremony was held on Saturday, October 13 and according to all who joined us the ceremony was a great success. The highlights for me were seeing “The Whole House” come together to honor these families, getting the opportunity to meet these people who have sacrificed so much and listening to their speeches – in particular Bob Bruno who described in detail the circumstances surrounding Andy Benton’s death and how Andy had saved this “young, new guys” life that day – Bob then pointed out his children and grand children and thanked Andy for giving him the opportunity to enjoy such a wonderful life. It was an incredible experience for all of us because I was the person who volunteered to contact all the friends and relatives of “our guys.” I ended up being the person everyone wanted to thank for our ceremony. It was nice having all the attention but this dedication would not have taken place without the help of many people.

The list has to begin with Dennis Kruger. These plaques would not be a reality without his hard work and overwhelming desire to honor the memory of these brave fire fighters. Thanks also to: Master Chef Tony Rivera and Salad Master Andy Saitz for a fantastic luncheon, myself appointed right hand man AC Art Kenney “Just let me know what you need!”, our 65’ ladder team of Ed Gee, Rob Dotson, Andy Saitz, Thom Jayqiush, Dave Saitz, Steve Giacolone, Ken McCarthy, Walter Villavincenzio, Adam Wood, Lorenzo Ibarra, Wayman Duncan, Heather Piper and Michael Hensley Productions for our luncheon tables, chairs and table cloths, Tila T’aape for setting up our sound system, flower man Frank Iavarone, flag men Jerry Heffernan and Pete Arnautoff. Ice man Jim Carlin, my sidekick Fred Walsh, last minute savior Justin Brown. Tying up the loose ends Barry Wong, Joe Morrison, Roberto Lucha, MC Tom Siragusa and all the members of Station #7 – Brendan O’Leary who always does an incredible job with the bag pipes, Wendell Joost, Paul Barry and Jack McCloskey of the SF Hook and Ladder Society for the 65’ ladder and city service rig, Father John Greene for a beautiful speech, Mayor Willie Brown and Supervisor Tom Ammiano for taking time out of their busy schedules to join us. Ken Smith and Pete Howes from the SFFD PIO Office, Mike Mustacchi for all the photos, John Hanley and Frank Kelly from Local #798, fire reserve members: Jason Collado, Phil Buckley, Josiah Bragdon, Pat Hannan, Steve Figuerroa-Cruz and Shawn Mooney for all the help setting up and parking patrol, Darrin “T-Shirt Man” Bortmas for supplying FDNY T-shirts and my wife and kids for selling them. We collected several thousand dollars to add to the FDNY T-shirt Fund, Nicol Jurotavac for the certificates of honor from the City and County of San Francisco, Chief of SFFD, Mario Trevino, Chief Dan Sullivan, Chief Bernie Lee, Chief Joe Asaro, Mike Walsh and Jerry Keohane at BOE for bringing “Turbo Chief” details for the day Bill McGee, Randy Hendrix and Melissa Lerma, Tish, Daniella and staff at Dylans Pub for taking such great care of all our guests, Ginny at headquarters, Al Sassus and finally Jim Bogue, your singing made our dedication a little extra special.

A special thank you also goes out to Los Bomberos, Asian Firefighters, United Fire Service Women and of course Local #798 for their donations so we could purchase all the necessary items to make this event a reality. Thanks also to Kyle at First Call Productions and fire engine tours for donation part of their services, all the members of Station #7 want to thank all those who joined us for our plaque dedication especially the families and friends of: William Neifer, Patrick Duffy, George Keenan, Frank Lamey, Andrew Benton, Zeno Contreras. We want you all to know our plaque is dedicated to you as well as your loved one engraved on our plaque.

Left: Plaque dedication, Center: Zeno Contreras' Family , Right: Marty McGuinn & Family

Photos by: Michael Mustacchi


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