Hometown: Jersey City, New Jersey

My Story

Vina Drennan“While fighting an apartment building fire in Lower Manhattan, New York City, on March 28, 1994, my husband Captain John Drennan and two other firefighters were searching for residents on the second floor while it appeared that the fire remained on the first floor. Suddenly the fire broke through a door on the first floor and climbed the stairway to the second floor, trapping John and the other firefighters. The fire turned to flashover and they were engulfed in flames.

One of the firefighters died on the scene while the other succumbed to injuries the following day. John experienced third- and fourth-degree burns to 65 percent of his body. He fought hard to stay alive at the hospital burn unit, however, after 40 days of struggling to survive skin grafts, organ failures, and other procedures his body could fight no more. I lost my husband at the young age of 49.

Had there been fire sprinklers in the building and properly insulated bunker gear for the firefighters, John would still be here with me today. While fire sprinklers protect occupants of buildings, they also protect the firefighters who risk their lives when responding to fires.”


Advocacy Portfolio

  • Secretary of the Board for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF)
  • Founding member of NFFF’s Fire Service Survivors Network
  • Lobbied U.S. Congress during multiple attempts to pass Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act
  • Testified for fire safety on national, state and local levels
  • Involved with the FDNY Fire Foundation
  • Worked with the New York State Task Force of Fire Safety Teacher Training Curriculum

In the News

  • “Saving Firefighter Lives, One Decision at a Time,” FirefighterNation.com, March 10, 2014.
  • Bring Residential Fire Sprinklers into the Code,” Contractor, June 1, 2007.
  • “Talk of Life and Death of Firefighter from Widow,” New York Times, May 9, 1994.