QUEENS, N.Y. - The grandchildren of a Queens firefighter who died 77 years ago are taking the city fire department to court.
They say the FDNY has denied their grandfather the recognition he deserves.
"He deserves to be on the wall," said Richard Meister, "and I think it's up to the Fire Department to do the right thing. They should honor him for making the sacrifice that he did."
The memorial wall at the Fire Department headquarters in Brooklyn bears the names of 1,200 firefighters who died in the line of duty.
Captain Hans Meister is not among them.
Richard Meister says his grandfather worked out of several fire stations, including Engine Company 292 in Woodside, on a section of Queens Boulevard co-named the Boulevard of Bravery.
Hans Meister died 77 years ago, five days after fighting a 5-alarm fire in Long Island City.
At the time, the Fire Department said the death was not job-related, denying his widow a pension.
But the family's attorney, Ed McCarty III, says medical experts he consulted with tell him the respiratory issues that Hans Meister suffered in his final days, detailed in a firehouse logbook, were a result of the heat and smoke from that massive fire.
"We were unanimous in the conclusion that he died in the line of duty of a condition that is defined today but wasn't defined in 1943," says McCarty, who is an attorney with Vishnick McGovern Milizio Law.
That condition is Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.
Meister says when his family reached out to the FDNY in the 1990s, the department said it did not reverse death determinations made by a previous commissioner.
But two years ago, they learned another family got the department to do just that, for a firefighter who died in 1935.
"We saw who they used as their legal counsel and the lightbulb went on: we should probably talk to that same guy and that same firm,” explained Meister.
So this week, McCarty, a retired judge taking the case pro bono, will file a motion in Brooklyn State Supreme Court to get the FDNY to change its determination of Hans Meister's death.
The family says it has no interest in his unpaid pension benefits, it just wants to see him honored.
"We'd like to think in the next two to three weeks," said McCarty. "We'll get a call from the Fire Department saying we're going to put his name of the plaque of honor."
The FDNY tells NY1 that "If new information is provided, the Department will review the matter."
That offers hope for a grandson seeking recognition for a grandfather's sacrifice.