By Lisa Kava
FDNY Engine Company 74 on West 83rd Street welcomed a new mascot in September. JT, a seven-month-old Dalmatian puppy is named after the late FDNY firefighter James Trainor, father of Upper West Sider Patti Trainor-Wrazej. Trainor-Wrazej donated the puppy to Engine Company 74 in return for kindness the firefighters had shown her upon her father’s death.
Trainor-Wrazej has lived on West 82nd Street right behind the fire station for 28 years. “My kids grew up walking down that block and visiting the fire station.” Her father, James Trainor of Queens, served as a New York City firefighter for 39 years in various engine companies including Ladder 42 in the Bronx, Marine 6 on the Lower East Side, and Battalion 49 in Queens. He even did a brief rotation through Engine 74. Trainor retired as Battalion Chief out of Queens in 2001, his daughter reported.
When her father passed away in 2018, Trainor-Wrazej reached out to the firefighters at Engine Company 74 for help in fulfilling his wish to be buried in his uniform. “The fire department is one big family,” she explained. The firefighters helped Trainor-Wrazej secure a clean shirt, battalion pins and other necessary items.
Engine Company 74 always had a Dalmatian living at the firehouse. Yogi, the previous mascot, died in January, 2020, at the age of 15. Yogi was named after firefighter Ruben Correa who passed away on September 11, 2001. (Correa’s nickname was Yogi.) Yogi was preceded by Sparky, Buddy and Chloe.
When Trainor-Wrazej learned of Yogi’s death, she wanted to do something special for the firefighters to pay it forward. She met with Company 74 senior firefighter John Keaveny and offered to find, train and donate a new Dalmatian puppy to the station. Keaveny discussed the suggestion with Bobby Stanlewicz, Company 74’s most senior firefighter. “We loved the idea” said Keaveny. “They said they wanted a puppy more than ever,” said Trainor-Wrazej.
After researching Dalmatian breeders, Trainor-Wrazej settled on one located in Florida. The breeder flew to NYC with JT on June 19th, the first date the puppy was allowed to fly (at 10 weeks old.) Ironically the date was also James Trainor’s birthday.
The Wrazej family trained JT over the summer, teaching him basic obedience, socialization and commands. “My family loved having JT around. There is something very special about him. He is a really sweet dog.”
On September 4th, the Wrazej’s delivered JT to Engine Company 74; Keaveny and Stanlewicz wanted the puppy at the firehouse before September 11th. Keaveny describes JT as friendly and social. “He likes to be out in front saying hello to everyone.” And JT is taking his job as a firehouse dog seriously. “He already knows to jump on the rig for runs. He is excited about everything,” said Keaveny. JT even has his own bed on top of an extra seat in the rig, Keaveny told West Side Rag. “We built a small bed frame that attaches on and off when we need to remove it. It fits him perfectly so he can lay down during runs and be comfortable.”
“It was tough losing Yogi after 15 years” said Stanlewicz. “He was a member of Engine 74. Now JT is becoming part of the community. I love seeing the expressions on people’s faces when they see him on the fire engine or sitting in front of the firehouse.”
The firefighters take turns walking JT in the neighborhood, the park and bringing him to the dog run. Having a puppy at the station is a big transition according to Keaveny. “Yogi would sleep a lot towards the end of his life, but JT is all about play with me and watch me or I will eat all of your food. If someone leaves out a steak it’s his.”
Dalmatians became known as firehouse dogs in the 1800’s because of their innate ability to calm horses who often became nervous at the scene of a fire, explained Keaveny. “Dalmatians were loyal to and protective of the horses.”
While calming horses is no longer necessary, JT has already begun to comfort the firefighters at Engine Company 74. “He is very affectionate, he is a big cuddler. He will lay down and flop right next to us when we are reading a book or watching the news. He is a great companion to all of us,” said Keaveny.
Patti Trainor-Wrazej and her family visit JT often, stopping in to say hello or to take him on a walk. “He gets so excited when the family comes to visit,” said Keaveny.
“It was so hard to leave JT after we got to know him. We cried as we left’,” said Trainor-Wrazej. “But we know that JT will bring the firefighters comfort, especially in the days ahead.”
“It’s comforting to know that my dad’s spirit is living on in the FDNY. He loved his job and all the people he worked with so much.”
JT can be followed on Instagram @jt_thefiredog