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Andy Fredericks Legacy

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August 24, 2015 | NATIONAL S.J. KELLEY, Correspondent

I was enrolled to attend Rockland College N.Y. in the fall of 1999. At that time fire science classes were held at the Rockland Fire Training Center. Every Tuesday and Thursday I would take the long travel from Port Ewen to Pomona. When I received my class card it said I was taking Intro to fire science with Walter Morris and building construction with Andy Fredericks. On the first day of classes we received our book assignments. Morris wanted ( Intro to the Fire Service) and Fredericks wanted (Building Construction for the Fire Service) by Francis Brannigan.
The first day I met Andy, he gave us his Introduction/Bio. I had no idea he was an FDNY firefighter. For a 19 year old that was the coolest thing ever. Of course the war stories of Manhattan and his volunteer company Suffern Hose were very entertaining. I do remember him mentioning teaching at the fire academy but never really talked about it. As semester would go on Andy would bring in props of wood truss, burned wood etc. Another part of this class covered building collapse. Andy’s answer to this was if you think a wall is collapsing, aim for the falling open window. Of course I don’t think he was serious but sometimes you never knew if it actually happened to him.
One of Andy’s great teaching qualities was personal relationships with his students. He opened a lot of his life to us. I can recount the story of when he sold his leather helmet collection to pay some of his bills. Another part of Andy’s life was his son. I can recount many times where Mrs. Fredericks dropped him off during class so she could go to work. I believe at the time he was 6 years old. He never bothered anyone in class, most of the time he was on the back dry erase board drawing or playing with the props. Other times handing out tests and handouts. I can remember many times Andy being late to class due to fires in Manhattan. In the training center lobby were the students, his wife/son . But those times are the ones you remember. As soon as Andy would walk in the front door, Andy and his wife talked for a little bit and his son would grab his hand and they were off to the classroom. You could tell how proud he was of his Dad “The Teacher” and “The Fireman” leading the students to class.
I found out Andy’s nickname was “Smooth Bore” due to the type of nozzle he researched and passionately preached. I would not realize how big Andy was until I became an Instructor in 2005. At the NYS Fire Academy there is a section of the class/hallway dedicated in his honor. He also was speaking at conferences and seminars, making training tapes and wrote articles for Firehouse/Fire Engineering magazine. I also met Instructors from Rockland County and found out that Andy’s son joined Suffern Hose Co. and completed his Firefighter-1 course. What a great way to honor your Dad by following in his footsteps.
September 11th 2001 was a devastating event in our country, many people needlessly perished. . A week after the attacks I called Walter Morris to find out if Andy made it out. I can remember his exact words “It’s not looking to good for Andy.” In all honesty I thought he made it out. There would have been no reason for the chauffer to be in the building. The story that surfaced months afterwards was the interior teams were giving an evacuation order. Squad 18 was not responding back to the Incident Commander. Andy went into the building to find his company and get them out of there, a true brother. I can’t imagine the Fredericks home that day when little Andy found out that his hero was not coming home ever again. It’s absolutely heart wrenching.
Imagine if Andy was still here? We only saw the beginning of Andy Fredericks. Imagine the things he could have accomplished? How far up the promotion line he would have been? What courses would have been created? The best way I honor Andrew A. Fredericks is researching the books he read and pass on his legacy to the newer generation. Every copy of Lloyd Laymen’s “Firefighting Tactics” at the NYS Fire Academy has Andy’s signature for signing the book out. I recently found videos of Andy’s seminars. Believe it or not ¾ of his arguments are issues still going on today. Those videos I show in my classes. At the time he was teaching and preaching his advanced methods of firefighting. Andy probably did not realize he was being a great mentor and instructor. You followed his beliefs because he was passionate about the fire service and proved his methods during training. As of today Andy is remembered by NYS courses involving fire suppression. Every firefighter who takes these courses will know the saying “If you put the fire out you won’t have to bailout”. His legacy will never be forgotten.

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S.J. KELLEYCorrespondent

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