Mayor Mike Bloomberg, left, answers reporters' questions at a 2003 news conference in Staten Island. To his right is current FDNY Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta, center, and Chief Salvatore Cassano, right, who is now set to be the new Fire Commissioner.
Salvatore Cassano, former Chief of the Department, was tapped to take over as head of New York's Bravest on January 1.
The 40-year veteran has the distinction of serving in every rank of the FDNY.
"I spent the better part of my life, the last forty years, working to protect the lives and property of the citizens of this city... it's been an honor and a blessing," said Cassano after being introduced by the mayor. "I want to thank you mayor for having the confidence in me to work not just to continue but to improve the quality of life saving."
Cassano joined the department in 1969 after serving with the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He began as a firefighter and during his career has been cited for bravery five times.
There were reports that Bloomberg was considering a woman or minority for the top fire job, which has traditionally been held by white males.
Asked about the diversity issue, the mayor responded: "Our job is to get the best people. period."
Cassano said one of his missions for the near future will be to address fire prevention.
"My goal as Fire commissioner will be to build upon the extraordinary successes achieved int he last eight years," he said. "My top priority will be the safety of our personnel and the safety of the public, and there's no better way to improve safety than to prevent fires."
Scoppetta had been commissioner since just three months after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that killed 343 firefighters.
He plans to resume his former career as a university professor.