The funeral for Inwood firefighter Joseph Sanford Jr. will be held Wednesday at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church at 68 Wanser Ave. in Inwood. The wake is 1 to 3 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday at the church. At 7 p.m., there will be a service for fire department members. The funeral mass will be celebrated at 9 a.m. on Dec. 30 at the church. Burial is at 10:30 a.m. at the Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale.
Joseph Sanford Jr., the Inwood fireman who fell through the first floor into the basement during a Woodmere house fire, died at 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 23. He was one of the first firefighters to respond to the blaze at 787 Central Ave. near 4 a.m. on Dec. 19, officials said.
He responded to the initial 911 call. The fire began at 3:56 a.m. at the vacant home, which was undergoing renovation. Other firefighters found Sanford by accident under debris as they made their way through the home.
Revived by firefighters after being in cardiac arrest, Sanford was taken to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. “We are all very close and it’s going to take its toll on the membership,” said Inwood Chief Anthony Rivelli. “There is no question about it.”
Sanford, the first African-American 1st deputy chief of the department, made his way up the ranks in his 19 years as a volunteer firefighter after serving the required five-year probation period. He eventually became a lieutenant, captain and 1st deputy chief.
"This is a terrible loss for both the Inwood Fire Department and the entire volunteer fire service in New York State – especially so close to Christmas,” said Firemen’s Association of the State of New York President Robert McConville, who is also a member of the Selden Fire Department
Two other firefighters suffered minor injuries during the blaze that took 200 firefighters and 13 departments to extinguish. Woodmere, Inwood, Lawrence-Cedarhurst, Hewlett, Meadowmere, East Rockaway, Lynbrook, Rockville Centre, Oceanside, Lakeview, Malverne and Elmont departments responded. They used 20 pieces of equipment at the scene.
The fire was not deemed suspicious by the Nassau County Fire Marshal and the investigation is continuing.
A gofund site has been set up to help Sanford's family. "Our hearts are heavy. Joe 'jr' Sanford has passed away. Please keep the Sanford and Inwood Fire Department family in your prayers. His wife Jackie has been overwhelmed by your love and generosity," the Inwood Fire Department wrote on the site, http://www.gofundme.com/j3zi6k.