Salvatore Cassano named FDNY commissioner

December 21, 2009 2:37:20 PM PST
A lifelong firefighter, respected by many in the department for his four decades of service, has been named FDNY commissioner by Mayor Michael Bloomberg Monday. Salvatore Cassano, the department's highest ranking uniformed officer, was named to the top post just one year shy of reaching the mandatory retirement age for uniformed firefighters.

Cassano is a 40-year FDNY veteran, who currently serves as FDNY Chief of Department. He helped rebuild the department after 343 firefighters were killed in the September 11th attacks.

The position of commissioner, a civilian post, has no mandatory retirement age.

Cassano replaces Nicholas Scoppetta, a lifelong city government insider who started as an assistant district attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and once headed the troubled Administration for Children's Services.

Scoppetta has long been considered by firefighters a department outsider, and the appointment of Cassano - a foil in almost every respect - can only help relations between the rank and file and department brass.

Scoppetta, in remarks delivered at a 2 p.m. news conference at City Hall with Mayor Bloomberg, said:

"Chief Cassano is a strong, committed leader with a wealth of knowledge and experience who represents the best in this Department. During the past five years - in addition to running our day-to-day emergency operations - he has worked tirelessly to help rebuild a Department severely impacted by the Sept. 11 attacks. Due to his efforts, our firefighters, EMT's and paramedics are better trained, equipped and prepared to respond more safely and effectively to every type of emergency in New York City. I am confident the Department will prosper under his leadership."

Cassano started in the FDNY in 1969 and worked for several years at engine companies in lower Manhattan. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1977 and worked at Ladder 113 in Brooklyn, where he also served after his promotion to captain in 1984. He continued to rise through the ranks as battalion chief (1987), deputy chief (1993), deputy assistant chief (1999) and assistant chief (2001), working in various assignments throughout the city, including responsibility as the on-duty Citywide Tour Commander. He has been cited five times for bravery during his career.

Following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, Chief Cassano was named Chief of Operations, succeeding Chief Daniel Nigro who was appointed Chief of Department following the line-of-duty death of Chief Peter Ganci. As Chief of Operations, Chief Cassano held the second-highest uniformed rank in the department, managing daily fire and EMS operations for the department's 11,500 firefighters and 2,800 EMT's and paramedics. In his role as Chief of Department, he will oversee the department's three major uniformed bureaus: Operations, Training and Fire Prevention.

Chief Cassano has a Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He and his wife, Theresa, reside in Staten Island. They have five children.