Dedicated to our heroes and their families.

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Letters from families and friends are appreciated.


March 20, 2002

NY Daily News
Lt. Stephen Browne of Ladder 3 said McAvoy “had the values of an old-timer toward the job. John was one of the most thoroughly prepared firemen I've ever seen in my life.”


October 22, 2001

Dear John,

As you may recall, the captain of your Ladder Co. 3 asked you to see if you could help me find out about William McNally, a maternal great grandfather, who was said to have been a NY fireman and who died in the line of duty around 1900. I had sent a letter which he passed on to you. You found our family hero in the archives of the company, as well as on a plaque on the wall of the station house. You sent email about what you had found, you called us and talked with my husband and myself, you sent a lovely note with copies of old NY Times accounts, and you invited us to your station house and even to your home. You did more than I ever expected. I have kept your emails and your letters in my research binder, always meaning to find the time to get to the station house to meet you and see the plaque of our fallen hero, William McNally.

It was the morning of Sept. 12th that I tracked down the NYFD Help Line and, with trepidation, asked the fireman who answered about your whereabouts. His answer to me was what I had dreaded. Apparently it was obvious from my voice because he added a final “Hang in there.”

For days I waited, like so many others, for some definite word. A cousin’s friend, who lives in lower Manhattan, went to Ladder Co. 3 for me. She reported that 12 of the 25 fire fighters had been lost and that there was an assistance fund for the families. [NOTE: The Ladder 3 Assistance Fund is now closed.] I called the station house and talked with Doug DiGeorgio and Steve Gonzales. I notified other family members and I sent a check asking that it go your family. In addition, I compiled the information that you had provided into a page on a web site that I have developed for our family history, I added a tribute to you, and I dedicated the page to both you and William McNally.

In closing, let me belatedly thank you, John, for all your help. You were a hero to me long before Sept. 11. I regret never having made it to thank you in person at the stationhouse. I’m determined to visit there now.

Sincerely yours,
Kathy Detrano



This web site is a personal project, not an official site, nor a commercial site, nor a charity.

This site was not and is not connected with the former Ladder 3 Assistance Fund.

Please note: Five years after 9/11 the Ladder 3 Assistance Fund has been closed. All the funds have been disbursed to the families of the firemen who were lost. We thank everyone for their contributions.

This is not an official City of New York or FDNY web site. All information shall not be considered that given by the New York City Fire Department or FDNY. The FDNY acronym is a registered trademark owned by the City of New York.


Remembering John McAvoy

Ode to my brother John
by Michael McAvoy

To know my brother John is to have an opinion of him. He was steadfast in his convictions and never wavered from them.

My opinion of John, and I am sure everyone here would agree, he gave a lot more of himself then he received. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that John put all of us ahead of himself. His helping hands and warm heart touched many of us gathered here and countless people even he did not know.

John was my older brother, a label he wore with much honor. John took the older brother responsibility very seriously. I always felt confident and secure knowing John was there. If I had a problem, it was his problem too. He never gave up on me when there were times I gave up on myself. Part of me wanted to grow out from under his wings, most of me wanted and needed his care, guidance and protection, not to mention his delicious linguine and clam sauce.

John was more than a hero firefighter, a doting husband, a caring father, a loving son, a tireless hockey coach and a protective older brother. He was the cook at the annual family picnic. He was also everyone’s “Mr. Fix It.”

His love for his fellow man and the passion with which he lived his life, I truly admire. John McAvoy was bigger than life itself. Shoes many of us could never fill. He was the dream son every parent would cherish. Parents who have a few children, say they don't have a favorite. I can easily say that he was the overwhelming favorite, he is my favorite too!!

John, if it hadn’t been for growing up with you, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I want you to know how much I admire your courage, respect you as a man and love you as a brother. Thanks for all the love, laughter and protection you have given all of us. John thanks for being you.


The pain is universal

Be assured that the pain felt for the lost brothers of Ladder 3 is universal and is sorely felt far away. For me and my family it is somewhat sentimentally a shared pain. You see I too am a McAvoy and so I too feel that I have lost one of our own.

Years ago my Grandfather (from County Laois) told me that I was related to all the McAvoy’s all over the world. A visit a few years back to McAvoy’s pub outside of Dublin convinced me that he was right as we were truly treated like long lost cousins. (With proper amounts of Jamesons’ I might add). So when I learned of the loss of Firefighter John McAvoy I truly felt a twinge of personal pain. As I read more about him and his life I came to feel that I knew him and believe it or not saw traits that I’d seen in other McAvoy’s.

Then as I continued to read about all of the wonderful men of Ladder 3 who we lost that day the pain became almost overwhelming for me. What magnificent men they were. What true heroes all. Truly our earth has been blessed to have them with us for much to short a time. For our family the connection with the losses in FDNY grew when we learned of the passing of Firefighter Steven Coakley. You see we are Coakleys too. In fact my great grandfather Coakley and his brother were lifelong firefighters in New jersey.

We have been so touched by all of this that this year my wife and I are coming to spend Christmas in New York. We want to come to Ladder 3 to say from the bottom of our hearts, thank you and our hearts and our prayers are with you and we share your grief and that of your families. We hope that you will permit us to visit you and to deliver our feelings in person. We particularly extend our deepest sympathy to the family of John McAvoy.

As I look out over the Chesapeake bay, where we live, the heavens seem to be a little brighter. And I'm sure they are because I’m certain that there are at least 12 new stars brightly shining there, one for each of the men from Ladder 3.

Thank you for all that you do. take care and God Bless!!

Most sincerely,

Elizabeth and Jim McAvoy

Address: PO Box 280
Ophelia VA 22530
Tel: +1-804-453-5010