New York City

FDNY probationary firefighters head for ‘The Rock’

De Blasio: '323 heroic people'

December 30, 2014 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
323 FDNY probationary firefighters were sworn in Monday. Photo courtesy of FDNY
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Mayor Bill de Blasio called the newest class of FDNY probationary firefighters “heroic” at their swearing-in ceremony at the Fire Academy on Monday. The event marks the start of their rugged 18-week training period on Randalls Island, otherwise known as “The Rock.”

“Here at this swearing in, we have 323 heroic people – because you made a heroic choice,” de Blasio said. “You made the choice to serve others – people you don’t even know, but whose humanity you are here to protect.”

De Deblasio told the recruits, “They call this place The Rock for a reason. Life here, over the next 18 weeks, will not be easy.” He described days filled with pushups, staircase climbs, fire simulations and late nights of studying.

At the Fire Academy, the probationary firefighters – known as “probies” – will train to handle a variety of potentially deadly situations including fire suppression, medical response, hazardous materials, collapse and confined space rescue training, often while bearing heavy equipment and wearing a mask.

Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said, “When you leave this academy, you must be ready to safely respond, fight a fire — and quite possibly — save a life. That’s the sacred mission you’re accepting today when you raise your right hand in just a few moments.”

At least two of the probationary firefighters carry on a proud family tradition. Michael Sullivan is the son of Firefighter John Sullivan; Christopher Galfano is the son of Barry Galfano of the NYPD Emergency Services Unit. Both fathers served the city heroically during 9/11, and both were lost due to 9/11-related illnesses.

According to FDNY, women and people of color comprise nearly half the class, with 17 percent identifying as black, 24 percent as Hispanic and four percent as Asian. The class includes three women.

Over the past decade, the Fire Department doubled the number of firefighters from minority backgrounds serving in New York City. City officials say they are working on opening the door to more women.

De Blasio told the class that the department is on track this year to respond to a record number of emergency calls, projected to be over 1.6 million calls by year’s end. There were 69 fire-related deaths in the city this year, a relatively low number given the city’s population. De Blasio said this year’s figure “caps off a five-year period that is the lowest in the history of this department.”

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