Logo of the Fire Department of New York City, on a lapel pin.

Logo of the Fire Department of New York City, on a lapel pin.

This pin celebrates the New York Fire Department (FDNY). I got it in 2012. This year I stayed in New York virtually on the corner of there the Twin Towers were. I was gratified to see the number of people lined up to visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

One has to admire the brave souls working in the New York City Fire Department.

The New York City Fire Department, formally the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY), has the responsibility of protecting the citizens and property of New York City’s five boroughs from fires and fire hazards, providing emergency medical services, technical rescue as well as providing primary response to biological, chemical and radioactive hazards.

The FDNY, the largest municipal fire department in the United States, and the second largest in the world after the Tokyo Fire Department, has approximately 11,080 uniformed officers and firefighters and over 3,300 uniformed emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics. It faces extraordinarily varied firefighting challenges in many ways unique to New York. In addition to responding to building types that range from wood-frame single family homes to high-rise structures, there are many secluded bridges and tunnels, as well as large parks and wooded areas that can give rise to major brush fires. New York is also home to one of the largest subway systems in the world, consisting of hundreds of miles of tunnel with electrified track. The multifaceted challenges they face add yet another level of firefighting complexity and have led to the FDNY’s motto, New York’s Bravest.

The public often questions why the Fire Department uses the acronym “F.D.N.Y.” instead of “N.Y.F.D.” The reason? History.

Although fire service in New York City got its start in 1648, it was chartered and incorporated by the Legislature of the State of New York on March 20, 1798. Under that charter, it was officially named, “Fire Department of the City of New York.”

In 1865, in an attempt to break Tammany Hall’s political base, the State Legislature resolved to abolish the volunteer system in New York City and replace it with a paid fire department. The new organization, the Metropolitan Fire Department, was under Albany’s control, not the City of New York.

In response, in April 1870, William “Boss” Tweed pushed through a new charter for New York City, which consolidated all the City’s functions under City of New York’s (Tammany Hall’s) control. The Metropolitan Fire Department was dissolved and the fire service reorganized back to the original “Fire Department of the City of New York.”

The 1870 “Tweed Charter” also brought Central Park back under control of the City, as well as the police, sanitation and others.

Location: 13-C4