NYC Mayor Picks 40-Year Veteran to Head FDNY

Associated Press - December 22, 2009

by SARA KUGLER

NEW YORK (AP) - The New York City Fire Department's next commissioner will be a 40-year veteran who won multiple awards for bravery and played a significant role in repairing the department after the 2001 World Trade Center attacks.

Salvatore Cassano, the Fire Department's highest-ranking uniformed officer, will be the commissioner starting next month,

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Monday.

"Sal brings a lifetime of unmatched experience," Bloomberg said. "He's shown that he knows what it's like to go into a burning building."

Cassano's appointment represents a different approach for Bloomberg's fire department, whose last commissioner had never been a firefighter, much to the irritation of the rank and file.

Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta, who had served since Bloomberg took office in 2002, said in October he would leave at the end of the year.

The Brooklyn-born Cassano joined the department in 1969 after serving in combat with the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He began as a firefighter, and during his career was cited for bravery five times after rescuing people from burning buildings.

He has held every uniformed rank in the department.

After 343 members of the department were lost in the Sept. 11 attacks, including several high-ranking officers, Cassano was named chief of operations, replacing another chief who had been promoted to succeed someone who died.

Cassano now serves as chief of department, a job he has held since 2006.

The Fire Department has 11,400 firefighters.