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Brushes of greatness

Fallen firefighter Daniel Sweeney will be remembered by family, friends and community members with a mural painting.

In loving memory: Family and friends recently gathered to paint a mural for fallen firefighter Daniel Sweeney, which will be placed at Fox Chase Recreation Center upon completion in the spring. JOHN COLE / TIMES PHOTOS

Family, friends, elected officials and former colleagues of fallen firefighter Daniel Sweeney met at Engine 7, Ladder 10, Kensington and Castor avenues, for a mural paint day on Nov. 4.

Sweeney, 25, was killed in the line of duty in April 2012 while battling a five-alarm fire at an abandoned East Kensington warehouse. He and Lt. Robert Neary died when a brick wall crumbled on top of them as they were extinguishing the fire inside a neighboring furniture store.

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“Danny Sweeney made the greatest sacrifice you could make by laying down your life for other people,” said Mayor Jim Kenney.

The family was accompanied by Kenney; Councilmen Mark Squilla and Bobby Henon; Deputy Fire Commissioner Gary Loesch; Jane Golden, executive director of Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program; and Nathaniel Lee, lead artist for the Daniel Sweeney memorial.

Loesch worked with both Daniel Sweeney and his father, Dave, who is a retired captain of the Philadelphia Fire Department.

“Other than being with your family, you spend more time at the firehouse than anywhere else,” Loesch said. “When you lose someone like Dan, you lose an actual member of your family.”

They were joined together on this Saturday to help contribute and actually paint the mural for Daniel Sweeney, which will be placed at Fox Chase Recreation Center upon completion in the spring.

The mural will include a profile of Daniel Sweeney, with the image of a fire truck being driven by Sweeney, accompanied by Neary. It will also include a backdrop of Pennypack Park and pickup truck, both of which meant a lot to Sweeney.

“I think creating a mural with such personal heroism and placing it in a place that people will never forget, I think adds comfort and respect that it deserves.” Henon said.

Golden said, “It’s a way of saying thank you to Daniel Sweeney and to his family, his colleagues, the Fire Department, and saying that you are a hero, you gave your life to this city and we are very, very grateful that we want your image and your spirit to live on forever.”

Fox Chase Recreation Center was where Sweeney played sports while he was growing up and will be the location of the mural that will overlook the fields there.

Lee said, “This is a perfect location for this mural.”

Lee will continue to work on this mural during the winter months and expects the dedication to be in spring 2018. ••

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