Pa. firefighter-EMT dies after falling off ladder while helping friend
Brian Dolan, a 15-year veteran responder, was helping a friend with a home maintenance job when he fell
By Bonnie L. Cook
PHILADELPHIA — Brian F. Dolan, 45, of Fox Chase, a decorated Navy veteran and Philadelphia firefighter for the last 15 years, died Thursday, May 10, of injuries sustained in a fall from a ladder while helping a friend with a home-maintenance job.
Mr. Dolan, a skilled handyman, was at the friend’s residence in the 800 block of Fanshawe Street when he fell. He died at 12:18 p.m. in the emergency room at Einstein Medical Center. The cause of death was blunt impact and the fall ruled accidental by the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office.
Mr. Dolan was a career Philadelphia firefighter who had served since 2003 with Engine 51 and then with Ladder 29, both based out of a fire station on Old York Road in Olney.
While with Engine 51, his job was mainly fire suppression, dragging hoses and knocking down flames. While with Ladder 29, he performed search-and-rescue missions and positioned ladders against buildings, said Fire Department Lt. Nicholas Lazar, who worked with him at Ladder 29. The units both fight fires, but their jobs are somewhat specialized.
But Mr. Dolan had a third skill as an emergency medical technician. “The number of EMS calls he handled probably ranged in the thousands,” Lazar said. “He assisted many people in their time of need, be it a fire, sickness or illness. Everyone’s worst day was the time Brian would step up.”
Born and raised in the Olney section of Philadelphia, he was the son of Ernest J. Dolan and Paula M. Yost. He graduated from Northeast Preparatory High School in 1991.
He served in the Navy from 1992 to 1994 as an electrical and mechanical equipment repairman aboard the Barnstable County LST-1197, a tank landing ship. He was awarded the Southwest Asia Service Medal with a Bronze Star and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon. He was honorably discharged with the rank of fireman apprentice.
As a young man, Mr. Dolan aspired to become a firefighter. “He talked about it when I met him in 1995,” said his wife, Laura M. Weaver.
Mr. Dolan was “a true Philadelphian,” meaning he loved the Rocky movies and was passionate about the Eagles, said his family.
“I’m glad he got to see them win the Super Bowl before he died,” said his wife. “He was happy as heck. He was a true fan.”
He also enjoyed spending time with family in Toms River, N.J., and Wildwood during the summer.
He was so proud of his Irish heritage that he married Weaver, whom he called his “soulmate and best friend,” on St. Patrick’s Day, 2001, at St. Cecilia’s Parish in Fox Chase. The couple raised three children in Northeast Philadelphia.
“He would do for others,” his wife said. “He would give you the shirt off his back. He used to say he had so many friends, that if he had a Facebook page, the computer would explode.”
In addition to his wife, he is survived by children Brian Joseph, Gwyneth and Daniel Dolan; two brothers; a sister; and nieces and nephews.
A viewing starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 15, will be followed by a funeral service at 11 a.m. at Wetzel and Son Funeral Home, 419 Huntingdon Pike, Rockledge. The service will be conducted by Charles R. Lindsay, a Philadelphia fire chaplain and friend of Mr. Dolan’s. Interment with full military honors will be at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 22, at Washington Crossing National Cemetery, Newtown.
Memorial donations may be made to the Philadelphia Fire Fighters’ and Paramedics Union, Local 22 Widow’s Fund, 415 N. Fifth St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19123. Checks should be made out to Local 22 Charitable Trust.
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