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Who was FDNY firefighter William Tolley?

Posted at 7:54 AM, Apr 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-21 07:55:19-04

GLENDALE, Queens – William Tolley served 14 years for the New York City Fire Department before falling to his death while responding to an apartment fire in Queens.

William Tolley, 42, died in the line of duty on April 20, 2017. (FDNY)

Tolley, 42, was on the roof of a five-story apartment building, where a fire had broke out in a second-floor dwelling, when he fell, according to Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro. It was about 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

Tolley was rushed to a hospital, where he died.

The veteran firefighter is survived by his 8-year-old daughter Isabella, his wife Marie, his brother Bobbie, and both of his parents.

At the hospital, Mayor Bill de Blasio gave his condolences to Tolley's family Thursday night.

"A man dedicated to protecting others gave his life to this work and, like all members of the FDNY, understood every single day he was putting his life on the line, but he did it willingly in service of others," de Blasio said. "Today, he made the ultimate sacrifice. Our hearts go out to his family."

Tolley is the 1,147th member of the FDNY to die in the line of duty. He spent the entirety of his nearly 15-year career at Ladder 135 and Engine 286 in Glendale, Queens.

Outside the firehouse, mourners came to pay their respects to a man many said was "always joking around, always smiling."

"God rest his soul," one said. "It's a hard job."

In addition to his FDNY service, the Bethpage resident was a volunteer firefighter for his town and previously did the same in Hicksville.

Early Friday, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at all government buildings in the county as a mark of respect for Tolley.

When Tolley wasn't saving lives and extinguishing fires, he played drums for the heavy metal band "Internal Bleeding."

The Long Island-based rockers, whose Facebook page has about 52,000 fans, have been inundated with condolences. They released a statement in honor of Tolley, whom they called the "heartbeat of the band."

"There are ZERO WORDS to describe the loss. He was a good, decent and honorable man who loved his friends, his family and the people he served," the band said.

"There will never be another like him. There are no words to describe the utter sadness and despair we feel right now. We love you Bill."

A fellow bandmate told the Daily News they will go on and release their latest single "Final Justice."

The decision comes after a conversation he had with Tolley on Thursday, just hours before the fatal fall, regarding Tolley's busy FDNY schedule and how the band must "carry on."

The band is scheduled to go on a nationwide tour next month, kicking off in South Carolina. There is no word yet on if the tour will still happen.