Thousands of FDNY members lined the streets of upper Manhattan on Nov. 18 for Probationary Firefighter Jamel M. Sears funeral service at Bethel Gospel Assembly. He was headed toward a great career, one he would have wanted, said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.He was committed to becoming the best firefighter possible, and he loved the challenge. His drive and enthusiasm made him the perfect proby.
The 33-year-old firefighter collapsed while at the FDNY Training Academy on Nov. 10. He was transported to Mt. Sinai Hospital, where he died the following evening.
He is survived by his wife, New York City Police Officer Sherita Sears, and two children, Mahlek, 11, and Jya, 7.
“He will be remembered for his determination, drive and pride,” said Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta. “He was the kind of person we want all our firefighters to be. I hope everyone here today will carry on the memory of Jamel.”
Three members of Firefighter Sears’s squad at the Academy – Probationary Firefighters Roy Ciofalo, Phil Rivera and Yves Telemaque – spoke about the passion that pervaded everything he did.
“We nicknamed him [lieutenant] because we looked to him for leadership and guidance,” said Firefighter Ciofalo. “He had an old man’s soul with a young man’s energy.”
He remembered Firefighter Sears telling jokes during Roll Call at the Academy and the firefighter’s dedication to his new career, which included getting to the Academy at 5 a.m. to exercise and staying late to study.
“His absence will be felt by all who knew him,” said Firefighter Telemaque.
Firefighter Sears spent four years in as a member of the Navy, on board the U.S.S. Alaska. He later worked as a customer service representative for TD Waterhouse, then an operating mechanic for NYOFCO and KeySpan.
He began his training at the Academy on July 1, 2008. He spent a week at Engine 218 for training, and said he wanted to work for that firehouse someday.
“It’s a loss to all the firefighters here today that they didn’t have the chance to work with Jamel,” said Chris Webb, a former co-worker at KeySpan. “He was so dedicated, if you went to a fire, he probably would have said, ‘Sit down, I’ll put it out.’”
Firefighter Sears is the 1,139th member of the New York City Fire Department to make the Supreme Sacrifice in the Department’s 144-year history.
“I could never have imagined having to say goodbye to you,” family member Lhegend Carter said. “You were my brother; I love you and will miss you.”