Graduation day for new class of FDNY firefighters

Eyewitness News

BROOKLYN (WABC) — A new class of Probationary Firefighters graduated today in New York City.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano presided over the ceremony for 242 men and women.

The new class is the most diverse in the Fire Department’s history with 62 percent of its members identifying as minorities – including 24 percent as black and 36 percent as Hispanic. The previous most diverse class graduated in May 2013, when 40 percent of Probationary Firefighters were from minority backgrounds.

The new Firefighters, known as “probies,” graduated after completing a rigorous training program at the Department’s Training Academy located on Randall’s Island. The Mayor and Commissioner congratulated the new class in a ceremony held at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, where they were joined by several hundred family members, friends and fellow firefighters.

“The members of this graduating class come from a wide range of backgrounds and represent the very best of our city – and our country. Congratulations,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

“This new class of Probies is the most diverse in FDNY history and moves us closer to our long-stated goal of a Department that better reflects the city we serve,” said Commissioner Cassano.

Probationary Firefighter Sean M. McCarthy was named salutatorian. The Physical Fitness Award was awarded to Probationary Firefighter Fernando C. Rodrigues. Among today’s graduates is Probationary Firefighter Joseph Wylie, son of Firefighter Thomas Wylie of Ladder 18, who died in the line of duty on January 3rd, 1995 from critical injuries sustained a week earlier battling a fire on the Lower East Side of Manhattan on December 27th, 1994.

Seven additional graduates lost their fathers or brothers among the 343 FDNY members killed at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Probationary Firefighter Sean Cullen is the brother of Firefighter Tom Cullen of Squad 41; Probationary Firefighter Michael Esposito is the son of Captain Michael Esposito of Squad 1; Probationary Firefighter Christopher Mascali is the son of Firefighter Joseph Mascali of Rescue 5; Probationary Firefighter Sean Murphy is the son of Lieutenant Raymond Murphy of Ladder 16; Probationary Firefighter Stephen Ragaglia is the brother of Firefighter Leonard Ragaglia of Engine 54; Probationary Firefighter Daniel Waters is the son of Captain Patrick Waters of Haz-Mat; and today’s class valedictorian, Probationary Firefighter Connor Geraghty, is the son of Deputy Chief Edward F. Geraghty of Battalion 9.

The class includes 143 members who passed a promotional exam to the rank of Firefighter after previously serving as Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians with the FDNY Bureau of EMS, as well as 23 candidates from the open competitive list created from the most recent Firefighter exam administered in 2012.

35 veterans of the United States Armed Forces are among the graduates.

Probationary Firefighters are assigned to firehouses throughout the city, where they will gain field experience under the guidance of senior Firefighters and Fire Officers.

Last year, New York City recorded the lowest number of fire-related deaths – 58 – since record-keeping began in 1916 and closed out the safest decade ever for fire-related incidents. Since 2002, the city has averaged 85 civilian fire deaths per year, a 41 percent improvement over the previous 10 years, when the city averaged 144 fire deaths per year. New York City has recorded fewer than 100 fire deaths only 12 times – nine of which occurred during the past 10 years.

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