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New 9/11 Documentary: Feehan Family and FirstNet, Built with AT&T, Announce Premiere of “Chief,” A Documentary About the Highest-Ranking and Oldest FDNY Member Lost on 9/11

Film Honors Chief Feehan’s Deep Knowledge of FDNY History and Advocacy to Improve Conditions for Firefighters by Launching Fundraising Drive for FDNY Mand Library and Increasing Awareness of FirstNet Among First Responders

What’s the news? 20 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the legacy of New York Fire Department (FDNY) First Deputy Fire Commissioner William M. Feehan, the highest-ranking and oldest FDNY member lost during 9/11, is being remembered. The family of Chief Feehan, in collaboration with FirstNet®, Built with AT&T* – the only nationwide network built with and for America’s first responders – today announced the upcoming premiere of Chief, a new documentary about Chief Feehan’s life of service to New Yorkers.

Titled Chief in honor of the rank that Chief Feehan most identified with — the highest non-appointed rank that firefighters can achieve through promotions based on their service and experience – the film pays tribute to Chief Feehan’s legacy as a repository of FDNY history and an advocate for policies that improved safety for firefighters. The release of the documentary will kick off efforts to raise funds for the FDNY’s George F. Mand Library at the Fire Academy on Randall’s Island and increase awareness of the critical role of FirstNet among first responders.

Additional information about Chief:

  • The nearly 25-minute documentary follows Chief Feehan’s actions responding to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 with highlights of his decades-long career at the FDNY interspersed.
  • Remembered in the film as “always the first out the door” when there was a major FDNY response, the film uses archival footage and interviews with current and former FDNY brass who served alongside him. Key voices include current Commissioner Daniel Nigro and former Commissioner Thomas Von Essen.
  • The documentary also highlights Chief Feehan’s role as the “knowledge center of the fire department” and an advocate for firefighter safety, whose mantra was “What did we do for the guys in the field today? How did we work to make their lives better?”

Chief Feehan remembered: A 2nd generation FDNY firefighter, Chief Feehan joined the Department in 1959 after graduating from St. John’s University and serving in the Army during the Korean War. He rose through the ranks, becoming the first FDNY firefighter to hold every rank in the Department, from Probationary Firefighter (known as a “probie”) to Acting FDNY Commissioner.

His legacy includes winning reforms to Local Law 5, which established fire safety sprinkler system requirements in New York City buildings; combining the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department with the FDNY; and advancing diversity outreach and hiring in FDNY recruitment. In addition to his father, Chief Feehan’s son, John Feehan (Battalion 28 – Brooklyn); son-in-law, Brian Davan (Battalion 19 – the Bronx); and grandson, Connor Davan (Engine 231 – Brooklyn) are also FDNY firefighters.

How can I watch Chief? The documentary will first air on New York City-area public television stations the week of September 6 (check local listings):

  • WLIW21: Thursday (9/9) at 7:30 p.m. ET
  • THIRTEEN: Friday (9/10) at 9:30 p.m. ET
  • NJ PBS: Friday (9/10) at 10:30 p.m. ET

Chief will also be publicly screened in person for the first time at the Museum of the City of New York in an event commemorating the 20 years since the attacks on Saturday, September 11, 2021. Tickets and more information can be found here. Additional streaming options will be announced at a later date, with proceeds supporting the FDNY’s George F. Mand Library archives at the Fire Academy on Randall’s Island to honor Chief Feehan’s love and deep knowledge of FDNY history.

Watch a trailer of Chief here.

What is FirstNet? This documentary will also honor the Chief’s legacy by increasing awareness of FirstNet, the only nationwide, high-speed broadband communications platform dedicated to and purpose-built for America’s first responders and the extended public safety community. Shaped by the vision of Congress and the first responder community following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, FirstNet stands above commercial offerings. It is built by AT&T in public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) – an independent agency within the federal government. While commercial wireless offerings remain available to public safety, FirstNet continues to grow because it offers distinct advantages for public safety. With more than 17,000 public safety agencies and organizations – accounting for more than 2.5 million connections nationwide1 – the FirstNet network is providing first responders with truly dedicated, interoperable coverage and capacity when they need it, including unique benefits like always-on priority and preemption, and high-quality Band 14 spectrum. These advanced capabilities help fire, EMS, law enforcement and more save lives and protect their communities.

What people are saying:

Patricia Jacobs

President — Northern Region, AT&T

“Twenty years ago, we vowed to never forget heroes like Chief Bill Feehan and the hundreds of other first responders who made the ultimate sacrifice while saving lives on September 11, 2001. This documentary is a small way that we are keeping that promise, while honoring Chief Feehan’s life of service by supporting the Mand Library and helping inform as many first responders as possible about FirstNet. At AT&T, we take our responsibility as the stewards of America’s only broadband platform dedicated to first responders seriously — and I want to thank the Feehan family, the Chief production team, and everyone involved in this project for their efforts to honor Chief Feehan’s legacy and protect our first responders.”

Jason Porter

President – Public Sector and FirstNet, AT&T

“As public safety’s communications partner, AT&T is committed to providing first responders with the advanced communications capabilities they depend on when lives are on the line. This first responder-centric view is baked into everything we do – across the company and especially in our FirstNet division – and we are honored to join with the Feehan family to not just remember one of the legends of the FDNY, but to put his legacy into action.”

Edward Parkinson

CEO, FirstNet Authority

“We are honored to join the Feehan family and AT&T in remembering Chief Feehan’s life of service to his city and fellow firefighters. Chief Feehan and 342 of his fellow FDNY members lost their lives on 9/11 and we will never forget their bravery and sacrifice. Following 9/11, public safety across the nation joined together to push for a nationwide communication network to help first responders keep themselves safe. FirstNet was born from their efforts. Today, as we work to support America’s first responders, we keep the memory of Chief Feehan and all those who selflessly responded on 9/11 at the center of all that we do.”

1As of Q2 2021

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