Who is John J. Harvey?
John J. Harvey was the first New York City fireboat named after a member of the department. Firefighter John J. Harvey was pilot of the steam fireboat Thomas Willett, assigned to Engine Co. 86 at Bloomfield Street in lower Manhattan.
On February 11, 1930 a fire broke out in a cargo hold aboard the North German Lloyd Lines ship Muenchen, recently arrived at North River Pier 42, Morton Street.
Willett came alongside and her crew started working aboard the burning ship. The fire could not be contained and a series of massive explosions rocked Muenchen. The largest explosion sent a section of steel plate through the pilot house of Willett, killing Pilot Harvey instantly and sweeping his body into the North River from where it was recovered four hours later. Willett suffered serious damage and several firefighters were swept overboard by the explosion. All except for John J. Harvey survived the disaster.
Soon after the fire it was announced that the new fireboat to be built in Brooklyn would be named in his honor.