NY Post - December 23, 2009
EditorialThe FDNY was ripped apart on 9/11, and Salvatore Cassano was instrumental in its repair.
Now Mayor Bloomberg has named Cassano -- present chief of department and a 40-year veteran of the fire service -- to succeed retiring Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta. It's a sound choice.
Cassano literally rose through the ranks, joining the department in November 1969 and assuming his current position in 2006.
We've had our differences with Scoppetta, principally over the 2007 fire at the former Deutsche Bank building which killed two firefighters, but no one can fairly find fault with the job he did in the aftermath of the FDNY's worst day.
The FDNY lost 343 firefighters on 9/11, and rebuilding the department took skill and dedication.
Yet Scoppetta accomplished it -- and Cassano was at his right hand throughout the arduous process.
So we don't doubt that Cassano is up to sustaining the FDNY as the world's preeminent urban fire department.
But it won't be easy, what with the city's fiscal woes and judicial pressure building to make the department reflect the ethnic makeup of the city.
As for the latter point, a more diverse department no doubt is desirable. But great care must be taken to ensure that the ability to do a demanding, dangerous job well is not sacrificed to that goal.
Again, Cassano has his work cut out for him. We wish him well.