Fighting fires is family affair in Albany

Posted at: 12/21/2012 5:10 PM
Updated at: 12/21/2012 5:47 PM
By: Abigail Bleck

ALBANY--The applause was louder when Brendan Rhatigan's name was called at the swearing-in ceremony at City Hall on Friday.  It was sheer numbers.  Not all, but many in the crowd were related to the 25 year old.  Brendan Rhatigan is a fourth generation fire fighter.

"They all followed in my footsteps.  I got 2 brothers on and my four sons and now my grandson," explains the patriarch, George Rhatigan, a retired Albany fireman.

Like his grandfather, father and uncles before him, the question wasn't if Brendan was going to become a fireman, it was when.

"It was a no brainer.  It's been in my family for a long time," says Brendan in between hugs and handshakes.

The shifts are long--tiring both physically and mentally.  The hours are tough and there is a guarantee that the Rhatigans, a couple of them at least, will be working on a holiday.  Still, it hasn't stopped any of them from wanting to run into a building when everyone else is running out.

I don't think there has been a day where any of us woke up dreading going to work.  It's a very rewarding job," says Gerard, a current firefighter and Brendan's uncle and godfather.

Still, there are concerns.  The rank of Dad is more important to Brian Rhatigan than Lieutenant.

"He grew up in a family of fire fighters.  He understands the risks.  But we got good training and good guys to help him along," says Brian, Brendan's dad and also a current firefighter.

Friday, however, all worries were pushed aside.  It was a time for congratulations and celebrations.

"I'm ecstatic, very excited to do this," laughs Brendan.

And if you were wondering if there will be a fifth generation of Rhatigans on the force?  Rest assured...Brendan's baby nephew is already being groomed.

"If he can't become a doctor or a lawyer, this is probably the next best thing," adds Gerard.

Of the 13 recruits sworn in Friday, five have relatives already working as Albany firefighters.  One of the new members recognized today was Chris Abriel.  He's the son of Teddy Abriel, the Albany fire fighter who died of a heart attack on the job in February 2007.  Chris' brother, Matthew, was sworn in last year.