Son ‘too fat’ for FDNY on quest to lose weight and honor father

Susan Edelman New York Post

He’s racing against time — and the scale — to join the Bravest.

Matthew Asaro, 25, the son of an FDNY firefighter killed on 9/11, passed all strength and agility tests to become a member — but the department considers him too fat.

 Matthew Asaro Photo Anne Wermiel

Matthew Asaro Photo Anne Wermiel

Like his firefighter brother, the barrel-chested Asaro dreams of following in his hero dad’s footsteps. The FDNY says he can’t be sworn in for the next Fire Academy class unless he loses another 11 pounds by April 24.

The 5-foot-8 former high-school football lineman first tried out for the FDNY in 2013, finishing a grueling obstacle course in seven minutes and 30 seconds, three minutes under the 10:20 required to pass.

Nevertheless, the muscled hunk was disqualified solely because of his weight at the time: 262 pounds. An FDNY doctor, citing a Body Mass Index chart, which measures weight according to height, said Asaro had to trim down to 202.

Asaro, after rigorous exercise and diet, weighed in last week at 213 pounds. He vows to make the cut.

“I am going to lose the rest. I refuse to miss another Academy class for something as stupid as a weigh-in,” he told The Post. “Firefighting is in my blood and bones.”

Asaro has done 35 push-ups, 29 sit-ups and 10 pull-ups in one minute each — all more than the average probationary firefighter.

“To perform the duties of a fireman, I think I’m in perfect shape. I have the strength and endurance to do it,” he said.

While barring the athletic Asaro, the FDNY has excused shortcomings in other recruits. Wendy Tapia, 31, was allowed to graduate from the Fire Academy in May 2013 despite failing the running test five times, The Post reported. After failing a sixth try the following ­December, she quit.

The FDNY does not list any weight-eligibility criteria on its Web site, saying only that applicants must meet “established medical . . . guidelines.” On “Join FDNY,” its recruitment Facebook page, officials said the department has no strict rules: “Our only such requirement is to ensure that everyone who we hire is healthy enough to do the job.”

The FDNY did not answer questions on the issue.

Although rookies must maintain their weight for a year, after probation “you can get as fat as you want,” an insider said. “Once you’re in, you can eat bacon at every meal. No one is pulled off duty simply ­because of their weight.”

Asaro, who grew up in upstate Middletown and was 11 when his dad died, weighed 320 pounds in high school, but the bulk served him well on the gridiron — “the bigger the better.”

Now his weight threatens to wreck his childhood dream of becoming a firefighter and serving the city where dad Carl left off. Carl Asaro, 39 at the time of his death, was a father of six who spent his 14-year career at Midtown’s Engine 54/Ladder 4, which lost 15 men on 9/11. Matthew got 10 points on his application for the “legacy.”

“He was my best friend,” Matthew said, choking back tears. “I just want to walk in the same boots he walked in.”

Matthew’s brother, Carl Jr., 26, joined the FDNY last year. Another brother, Mark, 20, plans to take the next entrance exam.

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