Salvatore Cassano says he has no regrets. The outgoing fire commissioner presided over his last promotion ceremony Thursday, closing out a long career with the FDNY. Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
"I wanted to introduce our first speaker. Our Fire Commissioner, Salvatore Cassano.”
Thursday was the last day Cassano will ever be introduced that way. He presided over his last promotion ceremony as Commissioner. Cassano's voice was full of emotion as he addressed the friends and family of the 124 firefighters being promoted.
"I've had the privilege and honor of presiding over so many of these promotions. Thousands and thousands of promotions. Thousands of graduations. And at every single ceremony, I was inspired by all of you,” said Cassano.
Cassano started as a firefighter and worked his way up through every rank in the department before Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed him Commissioner in 2010.
He says that experience gave him a unique perspective, earning him the trust and respect of the rank and file.
"I was in their shoes. And every decision I make I make with the thought of, does it keep our firefighters, our EMTs, our paramedics in the city safe. And they know that,” said Cassano.
Thursday's ceremony included the promotion of two deputy assistant chiefs, 18 battalion chiefs, 40 captains, and 64 lieutenants.
The FDNY says the newly promoted officers have a combined 1,900 years of experience among them.
Cassano says his legacy is rebuilding that experience in the nearly 13 years since 9/11 decimated the ranks of the FDNY.
"It's stronger, more prepared and better equipped than ever before. And that's my proudest moment. And being safe as well. We talk about our safety record, it's second to none,” said Cassano.
Now the FDNY passes to a new commissioner, Mayor Bill de Blasio's appointee, former Chief of Department Daniel Nigro.
Cassano says he's not sure what he'll do in the future. But he says he loved his career so much that if he could go back and do it all over again, he would.