Like every other fireman‚ Dana didn’t choose this profession. It chose him. As a child he sat with a red plastic fire hat on his head as he watched Emergency on T.V. As soon as Dana graduated from high school‚ he joined the volunteer fire department in town – where he eventually attained the rank of captain. He was always taking classes at the Bergen County Fire Academy – his appetite for learning about firematics was insatiable. His dream was always to be on the job in New York City and he continuously worked to make this a reality.
Dana took tests for other fire departments throughout the country and in 1998 he joined the Bridgeport Fire Department in Bridgeport‚ CT as he waited to be called to the FDNY. In February 2000‚ he was awarded the Medal of Valor‚ the second highest award the Bridgeport Fire Department can bestow upon one of its members. Along with another firefighter‚ he located and rescued an unconscious woman from an apartment that was completely engulfed in flames and smoke.
On February 3‚ 2000 my family and I watched as Dana realized his dream and graduated from the New York City fire academy. It was a proud day for all of us. Dana was assigned to Ladder 34 in Washington Heights. He spent approximately one year there and was then rotated to Engine 26 in Midtown Manhattan. He was supposed to return to Ladder 34‚ a place he considered home‚ on December 8‚ 2001. Dana also recently began to teach various classes to fire department and was a hands-on training instructor at the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC).
He was handsome‚ funny‚ sarcastic as hell‚ caring‚ protective‚ compassionate‚ and handy (he could fix anything). He was an avid hunter and fisherman – we always knew what he would be doing on opening day of duck season. He taught me how to spit as we walked home from school as kids. Growing up‚ my family traveled across the U.S. in my grandparents’ motor home during the summers. We went horseback riding out West‚ listened to the rumble of the water at Niagara Falls‚ and watched the sun set on the Grand Canyon (Dana asked my mom why we traveled so far to see a hole in the ground). I went to Australia in July 2001 with two of my friends and Dana and his girlfriend of five years. We all watched as he proposed to her at the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
He was a son to Gaye and Thomas Hannon‚ a grandson to Elizabeth and Raymond Kohan‚ a fianc_ to Allison Dansen‚ a friend to many‚ and he will always be my brother.
He was born to be a fireman – I know that but it doesn’t make this any easier.