Donor Spotlight: New York City Firefighters Burn Center Foundation

Billy Leahy, president of New York City Firefighters Burn Center Foundation


In 1975, a group of firefighters saw the need for a dedicated burn care center in the New York metropolitan area. They formed the New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation, which became the driving force behind the William Randolph Hearst Burn Center.

With the foundation’s support, the burn center quickly became a national leader in burn treatment, rehabilitation, research, and education. For years, they worked together to provide patients and their families with top-notch care and support.

“Nationwide there are firefighter foundations providing resources that burn centers, due to financial constraints, simply cannot offer. We are able to fill in a lot of those gaps,” says Billy Leahy, foundation president and veteran firefighter. “When you add the Phoenix Society to the mix, burn care finally comes full circle.”

At his first Phoenix World Burn Congress in 2004, Leahy saw the potential to expand support beyond what the foundation and burn center could offer alone.

“A burn injury is a lifelong injury,” says Leahy. “By partnering with the Phoenix Society, I knew we could offer care and support that spans a lifetime—not only for survivors, but for anyone affected by a burn injury.”

The foundation began to send survivors and their families — as well as firefighters and medical personnel from the burn center — to Phoenix World Burn Congress every year. They also connected their community with Phoenix Society’s other services and programs, such as Phoenix SOAR (Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery).

In 2009, Leahy and the burn center worked with the Phoenix Society to bring Phoenix World Burn Congress to New York City.

Like Phoenix Society, Leahy sees the deep connection between first responders, medical personnel, burn survivors, and their families. So does Jamie Heffernan, the patient care director at the William Randolph Hearst Burn Center.

“There is something powerful about interacting with the life that your actions have helped preserve,” explains Heffernan, who volunteered at Phoenix World Burn Congress 2016. “Every hospital and every firefighter foundation should bring these heroes together. It impacts lives in ways we couldn’t imagine.”

In 2016, Leahy and the foundation continued their dedication to the burn community as a Gold Sponsor of Phoenix World Burn Congress.

“The New York City Firefighters Burn Center Foundation will continue to do whatever we can to help all involved with burn injury,” Leahy promises. “Sometimes it takes a team, and I think we’ve created one powerful team.” 


This article is an excerpt from the 2016 Annual Report. For the complete report, click here.

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