‘Tough as nails’ firefighter laid to final rest

By TED WADDELL
Posted 1/25/22

MONTICELLO, NY — Several hundred local volunteer firefighters braved sub-freezing temperatures to honor one of their own on Saturday, January 22. It was a tribute to William J. Steinberg, a …

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‘Tough as nails’ firefighter laid to final rest

Posted

MONTICELLO, NY — Several hundred local volunteer firefighters braved sub-freezing temperatures to honor one of their own on Saturday, January 22. It was a tribute to William J. Steinberg, a fourth-generation volunteer firefighter who tragically died in the line of duty at the scene of a blazing structure fire on January 15 in the Town of Thompson.

According to published reports, Steinberg collapsed at the scene, and after being rushed to a local hospital, reportedly passed away from an apparent heart attack.

The 37-year-old volunteer firefighter grew up in the fire services, following in the bootsteps of his father Jim, grandfather Harry and his great-grandfather Ralph Sr., all charter members of the company.

Continuing the family tradition of service to the firefighting community, Steinberg’s uncle, father, brother and a nephew are active members of the company.

As part of the memorial to Steinberg, a huge American flag was suspended over Broadway in the county seat, proudly displayed against the rising morning sun between the towering aerial apparatus of the Monticello and Liberty fire departments. The roadway was closed from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Numerous fire companies turned out in force to pay their respects for their fallen comrade, including Forestburgh, Monticello, Liberty, Rock Hill, Hurleyville, Kauneonga Lake, Woodridge, Woodbourne, Slate Hill, Lumberland, Grahamsville, Loch Sheldrake, White Sulphur Springs, Hortonville, Livingston Manor, Highland Lake, Yulan, Sparrowbush, White Lake, Stone Ridge, Roscoe/Rockland, Swan Lake, Callicoon, Ellenville, Neversink, Port Jervis, Youngsville, and Westfall, PA.

Units on stand-by status were Forestburgh (Westbrookville and Jeffersonville) and Monticello (Washingtonville and Pocatello).

Also in attendance were state fire service officials, Sen. Mike Martucci, Sullivan County Sheriff Mike Schiff, undersheriff Eric Chaboty, and county clerk Russell Reeves. Escort was provided by the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office and the New York State Police.

The Catholic funeral Mass in celebration of Steinberg’s life was preceded by a special firematics service in the Church of Saint Peter; the religious ceremony was led by Father Bob Porpora and assisted by Rev. Father Ivan Csete, a retired pastor and former chaplain of the Forestburgh Fire Company.

“Billy” Steinberg joined the Forestburgh Volunteer Fire Department as a junior member at the age of 16, rising through the ranks until recently elected assistant chief. He lived up to his childhood nickname “Tough as Nails,” until he was struck down in the line of duty.

For a photo gallery from Steinberg's funeral, click here.