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June 16, 1932 – Feb. 8, 2014

Mark F. Cassidy Sr., a retired Buffalo firefighter and former chief investigator for the Buffalo Fire Department’s Fire Investigation Bureau, a 60-year member of Ironworkers Union Local 6 and retired master chief petty officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, died Saturday in Sisters Hospital after a brief illness. He was 81.

A native of Buffalo, Mr. Cassidy joined the Buffalo Fire Department in 1959, serving in various assignments throughout the city. In March 1968, he was awarded the Edward H. Butler Gold Award for bravery after rescuing and reviving an unconscious woman from her burning house.

Mr. Cassidy was appointed to the Fire Investigation Unit in January 1969 and went to work combating the almost 500 percent increases in fires caused by arson, as well as false alarms that made up more than 50 percent of the 18,892 alarms of fire reported that year.

For his work in reducing false alarms, Mr. Cassidy was recognized with the Dr. William H. Marcy Award in March 1970. Detailed to District Attorney Edward C. Cosgrove’s newly formed arson task force in August 1974, Mr. Cassidy’s investigative skills led to 20 convictions for arson in the next 11 months. In July 1975, he returned to the fire department’s Bureau of Fire Investigation and was named chief investigator by then-Commissioner Karl K. Kubiak. Mr. Cassidy stayed with the bureau until August 1978, when he transferred back to a line company until his retirement in 1979.

Mr. Cassidy had joined the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Ironworkers Local 6 in 1954 and over the next 45 years was an ironworker and ironworker foreman for various construction companies, working on some of the largest local projects including the former Marine Midland tower, Buffalo General Hospital, Erie County Holding Center and the Light Rail Rapid Transit in downtown Buffalo.

In July 1962 Mr. Cassidy joined the Naval Construction Forces of the U.S. Navy Reserve, better known as the Seabees, achieving the rank of master chief. During his 30 years of service, he conducted training and construction missions in support of military operations. He was one of only two members of the Navy Reserve to achieve the Navy enlisted classification of chemical warfare expert after completing the three-month chemical warfare training school at Fort McClellan in Anniston, Ala., in May of 1989.

After retiring from the Navy in July 1992, he continued his military service with the New York Naval Militia, engaging in humanitarian assistance missions. He was a member of the security team the militia mobilized to the site of the World Trade Center attacks in September 2001, where he provided security at Ground Zero as well as at the New York Port Authority. He retired from all military service the following year, having earned the rank of commander.

Until recently, Mr. Cassidy was active in civic, social, veterans and political organizations. He was past commander of Island X-5 Navy Seabee Veterans of America; a member of American Legion Post 735 of West Seneca and Post 0273 of Madeira Beach, Fla.; past chairman of the West Seneca Veterans Affairs Committee; a member of the Buffalo Fire Department’s Emerald Society and of the Knights of Columbus Council 3875; and past Democratic Committee chairman for the South District.

Survivors include Mr. Cassidy’s wife of 60 years, the former Joan E. Mullin; three daughters, Christine, Maureen and Kathleen; three sons, Mark, Daniel and Michael; and 13 grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in St. Teresa’s Catholic Church, 1974 Seneca St.