Muralist depicts fallen firefighter Steven Pollard
He’s a muralist who depicts New York City heroes. This time he brings to life Firefighter Steven Pollard, killed Sunday in a fall from the Mill Basin Bridge while helping crash victims.
Kenny Altidor of Canarsie worked through the night on this latest mural, a 4-by-6 foot depiction of Firefighter Pollard of Ladder 170 on Rockaway Parkway, which was presented Wednesday night, before the wake at the Marine Park Funeral home.
“I usually take a week to finish one of these, but I worked through the night to finish this one,” Altidor said, still putting the finishing touches on Pollard’s likeness.
Altidor has been painting heroes for several years now, most famously painting murals of Police Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu of the 84th Precinct on Gold Street, who were killed while sitting in their car on Tompkins Avenue on Dec. 21, 2014. He has also painted EMT Yadira Arroyo, 44, a 14-year veteran of the FDNY, who was killed March 17, 2017 by a man stealing her ambulance; Police Officer Miosotis Familia of the Bronx on July 5, 2017, who was shot to death; and Police Officer Peter Figoski of the 75th Precinct in East New York, who was shot to death on Dec. 12, 2016 in a botched robbery.
Thousands of firefighters were expected to attend the wake and the funeral on Friday for Firefighter Pollard, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, city leaders and fire officials.
“It’s very touching – very touching,” said Captain Jimmy Quinn of Engine 257/Ladder 170.
“That people who didn’t even know us took the time just to help us in tough times, when the good people come out, it’s flowing and everyone can see it.”
The mural began earlier in the week, when firefighters, police and some elected officials came out to add paint to the canvass, to be a symbolic part of the finished work. Firefighters were then invited to sign their names on the back of the canvass as a gift to the family.
Councilmember Mathieu Eugene added red paint to the background, and a firefighter and a police officer from the 69th Precinct did their part on the canvass the day before.
“It’s very important to be here — a moral obligation to be here,” Eugene said. “Steven and the other firefighters are the angels of New Yorkers. They save people every day. I’m here to show my gratitude — he lost his life doing what he loved doing and saving people. We’ve been doing this for so many police and firefighters who lost their lives. This is a great painting and it’s a great opportunity to be part of what is happening.”
One police officer said, “I just want to do my part to show respect to these guys and to the man who lost his life helping people.”
Altidor said he was proud to be painting the murals of the “heroes” that he so admires.
“I’m a Canarsie resident fireman who served our community,” he said as he signed his name at the bottom of the mural. “It is very tragic so I want to give back to community by doing this. We can get firemen and police together — they always come together when we call 911. This is just a small token of appreciation to them.”
The mural was given to the family before the wake at their home in Marine Park.