Western New York honors a former Getzville Fire Chief who gave his life helping others at Ground Zero


The Getzville Fire Company is remembering the life of former chief Irving Isenberg. The Fire Company is calling this a “Line of Duty Death” and traces his illness to his volunteer service at ground zero.

“He always felt and did what was the right thing,” Daniel Cownie Getzville Fire Assistant Chief said.

The 55 year-old served for 35 years as a first responder, 29 of those years he spent as a member of the Getzville Fire Company.

“Irv did not think twice about going in to serve and that’s how he was,” firefighter Ryan Laberte said.

Isenberg died at Roswell Park this week after a lengthy battle with cancer. Both his family and the Fire Company believe the cancer developed because he worked in the hazardous conditions surrounding the 9/11 attacks.

More than 20 fire volunteers from Western New York served at Ground Zero. Isenberg is believed to be the first death attributed to that service.

Several first responders that served with Isenberg during that time say while there’s always a chance of harming themselves when rescuing people, it’s a risk they’re willing to take.

“It’s kind of like everything else, you don’t really think about it, whether it’s the immediate going in to fire,” Laberte said. “There’s an objective to achieve. That’s what we’re there for that’s our job. We sighn up for that so it’s not something we think about.”

“I wouldn’t have changed my mind but now many years later, especially in light of what’s happened with Irv,” said Former Gettzville Fire Chief Bob Zacher. “We go to the doctors get checked out and we try to monitor our health.”

The serviceman say it’s Isenberg’s spirit for life, they’ll remember the most.

“His fun loving, energetic one liners, Irvisms as we call them, we’ll have them in our memory for a very long time,” said Getzville Fire Assistant Chief Daniel Cownie.

Besides having a great sense of humor and vibrant personality, those who served with him say he was a great mentor as well.

“Ten years ago I was in EMS school he helped out significantly with training us, I’m very grateful that we had him here,” Cownie said.

They all agree that Isenberg was an asset to the community and he will be missed.

“Losing him is a huge loss to us,” Assistant Fire Chief Daric Will said. “We are going to keep going forward and like he said keep moving the chain. That was his quote, keep moving the chains, and we’re going to keep doing that for him.”

The funeral for Irv Isenberg was held at 10 a.m. Monday at Temple Beth Zion on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. Watch his funeral procession below:

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