On September 11‚2001 a terrorist attack collapsed the twin towers of the World Trade Center‚ trapping and leaving for dead‚ 343 of New York’s bravest. This incident has robbed from the Fire Department some of its brightest and most experienced members. You could even call these men legends. One such legend among that group was Battalion Chief Larry Stack.
Prior to joining the New York City Fire Department‚ Larry Stack spent six years in the United States Navy‚ including his last year which was during the Vietnam War. Following his honorable discharge on February 19‚1966‚ he had a brief stint with the NYPD.
Larry Stack comes from a family of firefighters. His father was a firefighter for 38 years. His brother‚ Dennis‚ a retired Captain‚ spent more than 25 years on the job. His son‚ Michael‚ was appointed to the FDNY in 1994. Also his brother-in-law‚ Ray – a retired Lieutenant – spent more than 25 years on the job as well.
Chief Stack began his FDNY career on October 19‚ 1968. He was assigned to Ladder 107 in East New York‚ Brooklyn. On February 21‚ 1970 Larry Stack was assigned to Ladder 175‚ a new company in Brooklyn – also in East New York. It was in this firehouse on New Jersey Avenue where Chief Stack would spend the next 11 years in one of the busiest ladder companies in Brooklyn.
On April 5‚ 1981 he was promoted to Lieutenant and covered in Manhattan for just over a year until he was assigned to Ladder 35 on June 26‚ 1982. Ladder 35 is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He supervised‚ trained‚ and earned the respect of the members in this firehouse instantly. It’s bittersweet to mention this company because some of the members Larry Stack had trained almost 20 years ago are missing also among the rubble of the World Trade Center. Ladder 35 and Engine 40 suffered heavy losses on September 11.
On April 5‚ 1984 he was promoted to Captain. He covered in Manhattan until January 6‚ 1987‚ when he was assigned to 8 Engine on 51st Street. 8 Engine is another company with heavy losses suffered on September11.
On St. Patrick’s Day in 1990‚ Larry Stack was promoted to Battalion Chief and assigned to Battalion 54 in Queens just one month later. He also worked in Battalion 50 (also in Queens) up until 1994.
Chief Stack‚ now with 25 years combined as a firefighter and fire officer‚ knew every street and every type of building in the five boroughs. It was with this knowledge Chief Stack put forth his greatest challenge. In 1994‚ he was detailed to the Safety Operating Battalion. The Safety Battalion responds citywide to 2nd alarm or greater fires‚ apparatus accidents‚ and worst of all – line-of-duty deaths. The line-of-duty death entailed months and months of interviews and reports. When the safety battalion arrives at a 2nd alarm or greater fire‚ the safety chief is the on-scene safety officer. This chief would make sure a building involved in a fire would be safe for the units to operate in. Chief Stack‚ with his many years of expertise in the fire field‚ saved many firefighters’ lives during his almost 8-year tenure in the Safety Battalion. Chief Stack might have seen something or heard something at a fire that units operating inside or on a roof might not be aware of. He was their second set of eyes. He was a firefighters’ sixth sense He had their backs! Therefore‚ it was no surprise when Chief Stack helped free two Lieutenants entangled and trapped in the rubble after the first collapse of the World Trade Center. Chief Stack‚ along with the two Lieutenants‚ found their way out of the collapsed South Tower only to come across an injured civilian with a severed Achilles tendon who could not walk and asked for help. Chief Stack‚ along with Chief Ray Downey‚ stayed with this civilian while directing the two Lieutenants to safety. Unfortunately‚ the North Tower collapsed.
But most important to Chief Stack was his family. His wife of 34 years‚ Teri‚ and their two sons‚ Michael and Brian. Michael – as mentioned before‚ a third-generation firefighter – assigned to Ladder 165 in St. Albans‚ Queens‚ and Brian -also a NYC firefighter – assigned to Ladder 123 in Crown Heights‚ Brooklyn.
Chief Stack loved spending tie with Teri‚ Brian‚ and Michael and his wife‚ Kathleen and their first child (and Larry and Teri’s first grandchild) Colleen. A great cook‚ the Chief loved it when his brother-in-law Ray and the Chief’s three brothers and their wives would visit. Dennis and Barbara‚ Thomas and Dot‚ and Kevin and Vicky would come over with their kids‚ with whom Chief Stack was close.
What Chief Stack loved the most was his wife of 34 years‚ especially spending vacation time in their Florida condo.