Cassano named New York City’s 32nd Fire Commissioner.

The new face of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) is a familiar one. Salvatore Cassano, a 40-year veteran of the FDNYand its chief of department, was named the city’s 32nd Fire Commissioner Monday.

Cassano has been outgoing Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta’s right-hand man since 2006, when he was appointed to the highest uniformed position in the FDNY.

“Sal brings a lifetime of unmatched experience to the task of managing the world’s greatest fire department,” Mayor Bloomberg said.

“We are choosing Sal not just on the basis of that very impressive record, but even more important, because of Sal’s vision for the future of the FDNY.”

Well-respected by rank-and-file firefighters, Cassano takes over a department in transition – one that has rebuilt itself from the devastation of the 9/11 attacks, but is struggling with budget cuts and a lack of diversity.

“We will continue to build on what has made us successful, while always looking for new ways to improve,” Cassano said.

Cassano will turn 65 – the usual retirement age – next month and will need an age waiver from the mayor to stay with the FDNY.

He was chosen from a short list of candidates including Mylan Denerstein, a top aide to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, and Phil Parr, a federal disaster specialist who ordered the evacuation of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

The number of fire deaths has plummeted in Cassano’s tenure assisting Scoppetta, and the department has touted reduced response times to fires citywide.

Still, the outgoing FDNY administration has come under scrutiny for a controversial new 911 dispatching system and the 2007 fire at the condemned Deutsche Bank building that claimed the lives of two firefigthers.

An investigation into the fire revealed that firehouses were not doing the mandatory inspections at the toxic tower perched near Ground Zero.

The Manhattan district attorney’s probed the fire, getting an indictment against the building contractor.

The city was not charged. Considered by colleagues as calm under pressure and devoted to the job, Cassano takes over the FDNY as it is under the federal government’s eye for a lack of diversity.

Though the number of minority applicants increased significantly under Scoppetta, approximately 91 percent of its 11,600 uniformed members are white, and nearly 99 percent are male.

This summer, a federal judge ruled the FDNY’s 1999 and 2002 exams excluded at least 1,000 blacks and Latinos from jobs.

Cassano, unlike Scoppetta, takes the FDNY’s top spot after serving within the Fire Department, coming on the job in November 1969 at a lower Manhattan firehouse.

He rose through the ranks and was named chief of operations after the collapse of the World Trade Center, which claimed the lives of 343 FDNY personnel.

Cassano, a Army veteran and father of five, was born in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. He lives in Staten Island.


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