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FDNY refuses LODD status to firefighter who died in 1935

The family of Thomas O’Brien may sue the department after they disagreed that he suffered a fatal head injury while on duty


By FireRescue1 Staff

NEW YORK — Eighty years after the death of an FDNY firefighter, his family may sue the department because they won’t acknowledge his on-duty death.

NY Daily News reported that firefighter Arthur O’Brien, the grandson of firefighter Thomas O’Brien, hired a lawyer to look into Thomas’ 1935 death. The lawyer, Edward McCarty, found that O’Brien helped fight a paint store fire on the day he died. The research showed that after the blaze, O’Brien complained of feeling faint and died before the morning.

An autopsy revealed that O’Brien died from a skull fracture and “lacerations of the brain,” and both were listed as “injury incurred in fire.”

The O'Brien family wants the FDNY to recognize his line-of duty death. However, the FDNY disagrees and refuses to consider his death to be job-related. The family said they are prepared to go to court over the matter.

“I just want him recognized,” Arthur said. “This is not a money issue.”

Arthur said he wants his grandfather’s name added to the department’s memorial wall.

McCarty said the FDNY is “putting off the truth. And when you put off the truth, courts are not going to stand for that, even for 82 years.”

According to the FDNY Bureau of Legal Affairs deputy director Alison Chen, the department isn’t “in a position to overturn the decision made by the fire commissioner who had the benefit of all available information, almost 82 years ago.”

“The death of any firefighter or any family member is a tragic loss, and we understand the O'Brien family's interest in this matter,” an FDNY spokesperson said. “However, it does not appear that there is any new information that would not have been considered in 1935 when the department reviewed the circumstances of firefighter O'Brien's death.”

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