We have learned that the Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo Memorial Foundation will receive the Billy Goldfeder Fire Service Organizational Safety Award during Fire-Rescue International 2015. Chief Joe DiBernardo, Foundation president and Joey’s father, will be at the conference to accept the award on August 27, 2015.
The Billy Goldfeder Fire Service Organizational Safety Award, co-sponsored by VFSI, is presented to fire service organizations that have demonstrated an outstanding commitment or significant contribution for firefighter health and safety. IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section Awards program recognizes both organizations and individuals that have made a significant contribution to the overall environment of health and safety within their own organizations and within the fire service.
The Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo Memorial Foundation, carries on Joey’s legacy of training firefighters. After a deadly January 23, 2005 incident that left him critically injured, Joey traveled around the country training firefighters and stressing the importance of personal safety ropes. During this fire, six FDNY firefighters were forced to jump from a four-story tenement after becoming trapped while searching for victims. Lt. Curtis Meyran and Firefighter John Bellew died from their injuries and Firefighters Eugene Stolowski, Brendan Cawley, Jeff Cool, and Joseph DiBernardo were critically injured. Later that day, Firefighter Rich Sclafani died in a house fire in Brooklyn, making it the deadliest day for FDNY since September 11, 2001; the incident became known as “Black Sunday.” The effects of Black Sunday are still felt today by survivors of the fire and their families. On November 22, 2011, Joseph DiBernardo, who was promoted to lieutenant after the incident, died from his Black Sunday injuries at the age of 40. In 2012, his family established a Foundation in his memory to help keep firefighters safe and prevent other tragedies.