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Richard Picciotto

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A former New York Police Department police officer, Richard Picciotto is a 28 year veteran of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY).  As a fire fighter, he has served as a fire marshal, arson investigator, lieutenant, captain and chief.  Chief Richard Picciotto is the author of Last Man Down: A Firefighter's Story of Survival and Escape from the World Trade Center.

According to Margaret Flanagan of Booklist, Chief Richard Picciotto’s book,  Last Man Down: A Firefighter's Story of Survival and Escape from the World Trade Center, is a “ gripping, first-person account of a 9-11 survivor provides a firefighter's view of the World Trade Center catastrophe. An invaluable eyewitness to history as well as a professional just doing his job, Battalion Commander Richard Picciotto was inside the North Tower when it collapsed. Determined to be the last man down, Picciotto coordinated the rescue effort of several dozen incapacitated civilians. Stranded on the landing between the sixth and seventh floors when the building came tumbling down around and on top of him, Chief "Pitch," a small band of fellow firefighters, and one grandmotherly civilian improbably survived the collapse in a small vacuum created by the placement of the twisted debris.”

Last Man Down: A Firefighter's Story of Survival and Escape from the World Trade Center
Richard Picciotto  More Info

About the New York City Fire Department

Following the Revolutionary War, the Department was reorganized and incorporated as the Fire Department of the City of New York. The volunteer Fire Department continued to protect the lives and property of the citizens of the city until after the close of the Civil War when, in 1865, they were superseded by the paid Metropolitan Fire Department. The change created resentment and bitter actions were taken by some who opposed the elimination of the volunteers. This resulted in rough and tumble battles fought on both personal and political levels.

The introduction of the steam engine spelled the final doom of the volunteer department in New York. The steam apparatus eliminated the need for men to pump the water, and the horses ended the problem of hauling engines by hand.

First Company of paid Fire Department to go "in service" was Engine Co. 1, located in lower Manhattan at 4 Centre Street. Apparatus was horse-drawn Amoskeag steam-powered pumper which was same type issued to later companies. Wheels were steel rimmed.  At the beginning, the paid fire service extended only to certain parts of New York City (Manhattan). The Act of 1865 united Brooklyn and New York (cities) to form a Metropolitan District. By the end of 1865 the department consisted of 13 Chief Officers and 552 Company Officers and firemen. They worked a continuous tour of duty, with 3 hours a day for meals and one day off a month. They were paid salaries according to their rank or grade. The first regulations were also formulated and they were fairly strict and straight laced.

The volunteers, despite their disappointment, accepted the decision and publicly declared that they would continue to function and serve until properly relieved by paid units. The Act provided that members of the volunteers were to be given preference over all others in filling the rolls of the paid department.

Due to major fires, which resulted in excessive fire losses and a rise in insurance rates, the department was reorganized in 1866 under the command of General Alexander Schaler. Under military discipline, the department began to realize its full potential and fire losses began to generally reduce.



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