A group of off-duty uniformed firefighters got into a drunken bare-knuckled brawl at a Bronx bar on Wednesday — just hours after they were honored for their heroics by the mayor and fire commissioner, the Daily News has learned.
A racial slur thrown at a black firefighter sparked the fight inside Billy’s Bar near Yankee Stadium between Bronx’s Rescue Company 3 and members of Ladder Company 49 and Engine Company 68, which share a stationhouse in Highbridge.
“They were drinking since 11 a.m.,” said a source with knowledge of the incident. “They show up at the bar after the medal ceremony and they got out of hand. The ladder and engine guys were fighting with the Rescue 3 guys.”
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Fists began flying after Rescue 3 member called a firefighter from the other house a “n—-r,” according to sources.
The brawl got so out of control that bouncers sprayed at least one firefighter with pepper spray as they broke up the fisticuffs, sources said.
Cops were also called.
A video taken of the aftermath showed a group inebriated, unsteady firefighters — their shirt tails untucked and sleeves rolled up — arguing with each other.
One firefighter is seen pushing a police officer trying to break the fight up. Other firefighters held the soused smoke-eaters back as they talked to the cops.
“Hey I think I’d be going to jail!” one witness screamed at the scene. “Where the cops at! Where the cops at!”
“They just had a big fight right here!” the witness, who was off camera. “You guys got great jobs. I have nothing to lose.”
No arrests were made. Nor were any police reports filed.
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A 911 call brought cops to Billy’s Bar Wednesday evening, but the incident was categorized as “other,” officials said.
Onlookers were surprised no one ended up in handcuffs.
“The police did nothing but send them home,” wrote Instagram user Will_tooill, who posted the video. “The firefighter van almost ran them over a couple minutes after this.”
“I wouldnt be surprised if the driver had something to drink,” he said.
But the intervention only brought a brief hiatus to the fight, sources said.
A short time later, three drunken white members of Ladder 49/Engine 68 went to Rescue 3 on Washington Ave. in Claremont to continue the fight — but were beaten up and sent home.
“They went to Rescue 3 to settle the score and wound up on the losing end because they were drunk fighting against the sober on duty firefighters,” the source said.
No one was seriously injured in either fight.
Workers at Billy’s Bar, which caters to cops and firemen, would not comment on Wednesday’s brawl.
FDNY brass have been made aware of the fisticuffs, a department spokesman said.
“The Fire Department initiated an investigation following reports of a fight involving off-duty uniformed firefighters Wednesday night in the Bronx, and has since obtained disturbing video that we have shared with the city’s Department of Investigation,” FDNY spokesman Francis Gribbon said.
FDNY Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro vowed to get to the bottom of what happened.
“Everyone and anyone who engaged it this outrageous behavior will be held accountable,” he said.
The FDNY are in the beginning stages of the investigation and are in the process of identifying those involved, a spokesman said.
So far, no one has been disciplined.
Rescue 3 was at Billy’s Bar celebrating one of their own — Firefighter Matthew Murphy was awarded with the both the Vincent J. Kane Medal and the Brummer Medal for heroic acts at two separate Bronx fires.
In September, he pulled three people out of a burning building in Parkchester, officials said. Two months later, he helped free a trapped woman from a second floor apartment in a Bronx home.
It was unclear if Murphy was at the bar or involved in the scuffle.
Sources said the hook and ladder firefighters were primed for a fight — upset that Rescue company members get all the glory on Medal Day.
“The rescue companies have a history of getting more medals when they do the same job as regular firehouses,” the source said. “It’s a thorn in the side of regular firefighters.”
Another source said that whatever personal or professional resentment they had toward each other bubbled to the surface as more beer flowed Wednesday.