Photo by Amy Beechler

During Keeping Tradition Alive in Lewisville, Texas, firefighters gather each year to pass down the time-honored ritual of honoring firefighters. The symposium features the ceremonial skills need for both honor guard members and pipe and drum units.

FDNY Firefighter Jeff Cool, survivor of the Black Sunday fire in the Bronx, who travels around the country sharing his story, delivered the keynote address during the symposium. Jeff recalled how he and FDNY Lt. Joey DiBernardo used his personal escape rope to escape the blaze. His steadfast commitment not only honors Joey, it works to promote the importance of personal safety rope systems to keep all firefighters safe. “It was my honor to speak at Keeping Tradition Alive and continue to pay it forward,” says Jeff. Jeff’s work with the Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo Memorial Foundation and in the fire service is invaluable.

“I was inspired and awestruck at his courage, dedication and conviction he shows for the safety of firefighters everywhere. Listening to him tell the story of January 23, 2005, and the story of the selfless act committed by Lt. DiBernardo, I could not help but to be moved, ” said Assistant Chief Terry McGrath of the Lewisville (TX) Fire Department.

Chief McGrath and Keeping Tradition Alive organizers wanted to show their appreciation for Jeff’s efforts. With the help from the event supporters, Keeping Tradition Alive organizers raffled a custom set of McCallum bagpipes and were able to donate over $3,500 to the Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo Memorial Foundation.

The Foundation is proud of our brother Jeff and his passion to keep others safe and for his willingness to share this story with others. We are grateful to the organizers and supporters of Keeping Tradition Alive for their support and for honoring the sacrifices made on Black Sunday.