On July 11, 2017, City & State Magazine honored Pitta & Baione Senior Advisor, and former Commissioner of the New York City Fire Department, Salvatore Cassano at their event, “Still Serving: Veterans Award Honorees.” At this event that corresponded with a special veterans issue, City & State put a spotlight on veterans who continue to serve the community, honoring high-ranking government officials, mid-level staffers, business professionals, and non-profit and community leaders who are assisting and protecting New Yorkers here at home.
Salvatore Cassano served in the U.S. Army from October 1965 through July 1967 and was deployed to Vietnam in September 1966. After returning home, he became an FDNY member in 1969 and served in every uniformed rank, including the highest-ranking uniformed officer, Chief of Department. In the aftermath of 9/11, Mr. Cassano was immediately promoted Chief of Operations to rebuild the department, a position he held from 2001 to 2006. From 2006 through 2010, Mr. Cassano served as Chief of Department where he oversaw many of the agency’s most important bureaus including Fire and EMS Operations, Training, Safety, Fire Prevention, and Communications.
In 2010, Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed Mr. Cassano as the Commissioner of the New York City Fire Department. In this role, Mr. Cassano led the United States’ largest fire department with more than 16,000 fire, EMS and civilian members, and an annual budget of $1.6 billion.
Both as Chief of Operations and Chief of Department, Mr. Cassano played a crucial role in rebuilding the Department in the wake of Sept. 11 and the loss of 343 members of the Department. In the years that followed, more than 6,800 new firefighters were hired and more than 6,000 others were promoted to various officer ranks as the Department went through a difficult but remarkable resurgence. Under his leadership, the FDNY became better equipped, trained and prepared with the result being the lowest number of annual fatalities from fires in the history of the Department.
During his long career serving the country and the city, according to Mr. Cassano, his proudest accomplishment is rebuilding the FDNY in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “We increased training. We increased our procedures. We increased the equipment that we had. We increased all levels of education in the department for every rank and I could go on and on. We just rebuilt the department from the bottom up.”
While a firefighter, Mr. Cassano attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Science. Mr. Cassano also received an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from St. John’s University in May 2013. In September 2009, Commissioner Cassano was awarded France’s highest decoration, the Légion d’honneur, by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Salvatore Cassano serves as Senior Advisor to Pitta & Baione LLP, advising the firm about the needs of first responders, proof of presence issues, and conducting 9/11 community outreach.
Photos courtesy of City and State NY