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[Share]Published: April 24, 2014

Promotions Ceremony Will Include Some of Departmentís Brightest Stars

(L to R) Capt. John Feehan, Lt. Michele Fitzsimmons and FF Kendall Richardson

(L to R) Capt. John Feehan, Lt. Michele Fitzsimmons and FF Kendall Richardson

The FDNY will promote 18 battalion chiefs, 40 captains and 44 lieutenants on Apr. 24.

Such ceremonies are always happy occasions, mostly because of the talent, courage and determination of those being promoted.

Three of those being promoted are among the Department’s best, Capt. John Feehan, Lt. Michele Fitzsimmons and Firefighter Kendall Richardson.

John Feehanís promotion to captain in 2007 (pictured with former-Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta and then-Chief of Department Salvatore Cassano). His father, First Deputy Commissioner William Feehan, inset.

John Feehanís promotion to captain in 2007 (pictured with former-Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta and then-Chief of Department Salvatore Cassano). His father, First Deputy Commissioner William Feehan, inset.

John Feehan

Capt. John Feehan spent his childhood trying to emulate his hero – his father, William Feehan.

“I remember going to the firehouse as a boy, I got to see the camaraderie, the friendships and the caliber of person joined the department,” he said.

His father was thrilled when he told him he wanted to be a firefighter. Then, as soon as he graduated from the Fire Academy, his dad encouraged him to study for promotional exams, stressing the importance of life-long learning.

“I always tried to make him proud,” he said.

His first promotional test was scheduled for October 2001, just a month after his father, who held every rank in the Department during his distinguished career, was killed at the World Trade Center.

“He never got a chance to see me promoted,” Capt. Feehan said. “I always regretted that, but he definitely helped me more than a little bit pass my three promotional tests.”

He said he vividly remembers his mother telling him as a child, “keep quiet, your father is studying” for Fire Department tests. “Now my kids hear the same echo … forty years later.”

He said he is anxious, but also very happy about being promoted, now overseeing a battalion, rather than just one firehouse, saying, “I have worked in some great places and had some great teachers over the years, so I hope I can pass it along.”

Michele Fitzsimmonsís promotion to lieutenant in 2007 (pictured with former-Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta and then-Chief of Department Salvatore Cassano).

Michele Fitzsimmonsís promotion to lieutenant in 2007 (pictured with former-Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta and then-Chief of Department Salvatore Cassano).

Michele Fitzsimmons

Lt. Michele Fitzsimmons said she wanted to be a firefighter since she was around 12 years old and saw women coming on the job. Her grandfather and great grandfather had both been FDNY firefighters.

Yet her grandfather, who retired as a Battalion Chief in 1968, tried to talk her out of the idea.

“But it was always in the back of my mind,” she said. She then began a 10-year career helping HIV/AIDS victims when she finally decided to join the Department.

“It was the best decision I ever made,” she said.

And her grandfather was thrilled to attend Family Day when she was at the Academy, “He told me, ‘It’s not just a Brotherhood anymore.’ He had a complete turnaround from when I was a kid. He was really proud of me.”

As she prepares for her new role as captain, the top ranking member of a firehouse who oversees all its members, she said she hopes she never stops learning.
“I have the drive to keep doing it, to become a better firefighter and know the job more,” she said. “I don’t plan to stop studying – every step I take, I appreciate the opportunity.”

FF Kendall Richardson at a fire in 2004, soon after he joined the Department.

FF Kendall Richardson at a fire in 2004, soon after he joined the Department.

Kendall Richardson

Firefighter Kendall Richardson tries to be a role model for children, attending career fairs and talking to kids outside the firehouse.

“I want to show them they can do something positive,” he said. “I want to let kids know they can do something like this.”

In these children, he said, he sees himself – a kid who told his teachers he wanted to grow up to be a fire lieutenant.

He became a certified EMT when he was attending Schenectady County Community College, near his hometown of Albany, where he studied Fire Science. He graduated in May 2000, and was called to become an FDNY EMT a month later.

After a few great years, he took the test to become an FDNY firefighter.

And although he said he is sad to leave his firehouse, he looks forward to taking the next step in his career as a manager, saying, “I have been lucky to work under great officers and firefighters who encouraged me to study [for the promotion to lieutenant].”

And he has two reasons to smile, as he is set to graduate from John Jay College with a Bachelor’s degree in Fire and Emergency Services in May.
“This has just been a childhood dream,” he said.

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