Ray Plakstis Jr., the longtime member and former chief of the Great Neck Alert Fire Company, is one of three Nassau County firefighters whose names will be added to the New York State Fallen Firefighters Memorial, according to a release from the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday.
“New York’s firefighters risk their lives every day, and many have made the ultimate sacrifice while running toward danger to protect the communities they serve,” Cuomo said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Plakstis died on Nov. 30, 2018, of 9/11-related illness at the age of 57. He served 33 years as a member, as well as being elected chief of the company twice since 2002. His name will be the first from the Alert Fire Company to grace the memorial located in Albany.
“I was honored that my husband’s name was going to be put up on the wall. He was well deserving of it,” Plakstis’ wife Donna said to Newsday.
Plakstis’ brother, Thomas P. McDonough, is a former chief of the Port Washington Fire Department.
“Ray Plakstis was a giant. I admired him in a big way,” said fellow Great Neck firefighter, and 9/11 responder, Michael Weinstock. “He was not only a great firefighter, but he also ran his business with remarkable compassion and decency.”
Cuomo also declared that the week of Oct. 6-12, 2019 will be known as Fire Prevention Week and Oct. 8 specifically as Firefighter Appreciation Day.
“Firefighter Appreciation Day honors the legacies of these courageous men and women who sacrificed their lives to protect the people of this state and helps to ensure they will be remembered forever,” he said.
Plakstis’ name will be added along with fellow Nassau firefighters Richard Kaplan of the Jericho Fire Department and Robert J. Langer of the Westbury Fire Department.
20 other names will be added this year, which will bring the total amount of honorees to 2,575, according to the release sent out by Cuomo’s office.
The memorial, dedicated in 1998, honors the sacrifice that New York State firefighters have made in the line of duty. The memorial also pays tribute to over 100,000 active state firefighters, who continue to serve their communities each day.
According to the New York State Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services, Fire departments across the state responded to approximately 1,591,572, which equals out to 4,360 incidents a day, 182 per hour, and close to 3 every minute.
“On behalf of the New York State Professional Fire Fighters Association, we honor the memories of our fallen brothers and sisters who lost their lives in service to all New Yorkers,” said Samuel Fresina, president of the New York State Professional Fire Fighters Association. “Their bravery and sacrifice in the line of duty will never be forgotten. They will live on forever in our hearts.”