FDNY Honors Make-A-Wish Firefighter

By Michael N.Ciampo

On Wednesday and Thursday, August 26 and 27, 2015, the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) helped 17-year-old Volunteer Firefighter Michael Schatzel of the Glasco Fire Department (Saugerties, New York) fulfill the wish of a lifetime: He was sworn in as an honorary FDNY firefighter and spent a day on the streets and in the water with FDNY units and participated in probationary fire school with its newest recruits.  

The Make-A-Wish Foundation—Hudson Valley chapter contacted FDNY to help them realize Michael’s dream of being one of New York’s Bravest.  On Wednesday morning, Michael was brought to the quarters of Engine Company (E) 93, Ladder Company (L) 45, and the 13th Battalion Chief (B) in the Washington Heights section of New York City, where he was quickly whisked into roll call formation.

Once he was assigned a position, Michael donned his uniform quickly and was given bunker gear; he wore the helmet of one of Ladder 45’s probationary firefighters, who is serving overseas with the United States Marine Corps.  Once he was geared up, Michael performed a roof cutting drill and auto extrication while being trained by the members of the company, showing him some street-smart tips and tricks.

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Once this was completed, another surprise was in store: The companies headed off to the drill ground where Michael was taught how to fly Ladder 45’s tower ladder and tiller and Ladder Company 34’s tractor drawn aerial ladder.  Once the drilling was complete, a hearty lunch was prepared at quarters, where the entire 13th Battalion units—E67, E84, E93, E95, L34, L36, L45, and B13—joined in welcoming Michael.

As the day with the land companies was ending, Michael was given a few tokens to remember his day with the companies before heading to his next stop.  The afternoon session he spent with the FDNY Marine Division encompassed a ride on the new FDNY Fireboat 343, offering some sightseeing while the unit also performed a drill. Once his day on the streets and in the water with units ended, Michael and his family visited Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

On Thursday the 27th, Michael was being given a tour of the FDNY’s training academy when he was suddenly called into the auditorium of the main building. When the doors opened and he entered the room, the probationary recruits all stood and applauded as FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro, FDNY Chief of Department James E. Leonard, and the FDNY’s staff chiefs stood on stage. After introductions and a welcoming address by Commissioner Nigro, Michael was called up on stage, where he was sworn in by Chief Leonard and then given his badge.  Once the ceremony concluded, Michael was given bunker gear and spent a few hours performing some drills with some of the recruits before heading back home to upstate New York.

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The FDNY, in partnership with the Make-A-Wish foundation of Hudson Valley, was honored to grant Michael his wish, once again showing how the brotherhood of firefighting continues to grow and support our members.

Read this story from the New York Daily News HERE  

The following photos are courtesy of the author:  


MICHAEL N. CIAMPO is a 29-year veteran of the fire service and a lieutenant in the Fire Department of New York. Previously, he served with the District of Columbia Fire Department. He has a bachelor’s degree in fire science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. He is the lead instructor for the FDIC Truck Essentials H.O.T. program. He wrote the Ladder chapter and co-authored the Ventilation chapter for Fire Engineering’s Handbook for Firefighter I and II (Fire Engineering, 2009). He is featured in “Training Minutes” truck company videos on www.fireengineering.com and is the author of the Fire Engineering monthly column “On Fire” and the training video “Bread & Butter Operatons: Portable Ladders.”

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