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PR- 503-09
November 18, 2009


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty today awarded Medals of Honor to 14 DSNY employees for acts of bravery at the Department’s Annual Awards Ceremony. The Mayor and Commissioner Doherty also promoted 22-year veteran Steven Costas as a new three-star Chief and 30-year veteran Rocco DiRico as the new Deputy Commissioner of Support Services. In addition, four new two-star Chiefs, and seven new one-star Chiefs were administered the oath of office. A unit citation was given to the Department’s Ceremonial Unit, employees of the year were announced, and more than 109 other workers were ‘Employee of the Year’ award winners.

“The Sanitation Department might not get the front-page headlines and it might not have its own TV show, but New Yorkers deeply appreciate the vital work that you do,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “And we should.  You’re making our city cleaner and safer every single day – cleaner than it’s been in 35 years. Congratulations to all of you.”

“I am honored to lead this Department with a tradition that started in 1881 with the Department of Street Cleaning and continued with the birth 80 years ago of the Department of Sanitation in 1929,” said Commissioner Doherty. “Our Annual Awards Ceremony is a time for celebration for uniformed and civilian personnel alike.  We are proud of all those who have either received a medal of honor, earned their promotion, or who have served this Department with commitment and pride through their daily efforts.  I salute you all.” 

Chief Steven Costas is currently in charge of the Department’s Personnel Management Division, which works closely with the Bureau of Human Resources during the hiring process of new Sanitation Workers, promotions, employee evaluations, assistance and other personnel matters.  Chief Costas began his career with the Department in 1987 as a Sanitation Worker assigned to the Bronx District 6A Garage.  He rose steadily through the ranks to various supervisory positions such as Borough Chief of Queens West, Assistant Chief in the Bureau Operations Office, Assistant Chief for the Operations Management Division, where he was instrumental in that division receiving the 2008 NYC Excellence in Technology Award for the “Best Wireless Project” for GPS/AVL, and most recently as Borough Chief of Queens East.

As the Deputy Commissioner of Support Services, Rocco DiRico is responsible for overseeing both the Department's fleet and facility management and maintenance.  Deputy Commissioner DiRico manages the Bureau of Motor Equipment, which handles the development, purchase, maintenance, repair, and final relinquishment of the approximately 6,000 vehicles in the Department's fleet.  He also manages the Bureau of Building Management, whose responsibilities include routine maintenance and emergency repairs at over 200 DSNY buildings, repair facilities, and garages.  Deputy Commissioner DiRico began his career with the Department in 1979 as an Auto Mechanic. He has served as the Assistant Commissioner and Director of Equipment Operations, where he managed the mechanical readiness and soundness of the Department's fleet used in the daily collection and transportation of 12,000 tons per day of household refuse and recycling, as well as the DSNY's diverse cadre of snow fighting equipment.

The Department’s prestigious unit citation was awarded to the DSNY Ceremonial Unit for their professional service as representatives at departmental functions such as funerals, promotional and graduation ceremonies, parades, and other special events. The 50 members of the Ceremonial Unit volunteer their time and are ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Ceremonial Unit portrays a professional and positive image of Sanitation to the general public. One of their main functions is to provide a presence at funerals for active and retired employees and to offer solace and sensitivity to grieving families during very difficult and stressful times.

Gold Medal of Honor Recipients

Incident date: July 20, 2009
Sanitation Worker Eric Guanco, Queens East 12
Sanitation Worker David Vargas, Queens East 12

On July 20, 2009, while on recycling collection, Sanitation Workers Guanco and David Vargas heard a woman screaming “fire” from a nearby house.  The Sanitation Workers stopped their truck and ran upstairs into the two story home from where they heard the screams and saw flames flaring from a gas stove.  Quickly, Sanitation Worker Guanco escorted a female resident down the stairs to safety while Sanitation Worker Vargas extinguished the flames with a fire extinguisher he found.  When the Fire Department arrived moments later, the Sanitation Workers told them what had occurred and went back to work to complete their recycling route.  It was only after they returned to the garage that they notified their supervisor of the incident.

Incident date: October 5, 2009
Sanitation Worker Anthony Triano, Bronx 10
Sanitation Worker Peter Creanza, Bronx 10

On October 5, 2009, while heading to their recycling route, Sanitation Workers Triano and Creanza observed flames and smoke coming from a nearby apartment building on City Island in the Bronx.  While Sanitation Worker Creanza called 911, Sanitation Worker Triano entered the burning building and began notifying residents of the fire. Sanitation Worker Creanza assisted in escorting the residents to safety.  Together, they evacuated two women.  When the Fire Department arrived, Sanitation Worker Triano re-entered the building to guide the Fire Department to where other residents still needed to be rescued.  

Silver Medal of Honor Recipients

Incident date: January 10, 2009
Deputy Chief Thomas Killeen, Fresh Kills, Bureau of Waste Disposal

On January 10, 2009, while checking snow removal operations on the Korean War Veterans Highway on Staten Island, Deputy Chief Killeen observed a car pulled onto the shoulder with two adults holding a small child upside down.  He pulled over and ran toward the car to learn from the parents that the child was unconscious, not breathing, and his eyes had rolled back. Deputy Chief Killeen applied the Heimlich maneuver, but to no avail.  He then stuck his fingers down the child’s throat and cleared his air passage of phlegm and foam.  Instantly, the child began to breathe again. When the EMTs arrived, the child was treated and released at the scene.

Incident date: June 17, 2009
Sanitation Worker William Yellen, Queens West 4
Sanitation Worker Pino Augello, Queens West 4

On June 17, 2009, while on household collection duty, Sanitation Workers Yellen and Augello observed an elderly male chasing a younger male shouting that he had just been assaulted by the younger male.  At the same time, two other people started yelling that they, too, had been assaulted.  Both Sanitation Workers pursued the younger male, apprehended him and held him for police.  The three apparent victims were interviewed by NYPD who arrested the younger male.  EMS treated two men at the scene.  The third male was taken to Elmhurst Hospital for further treatment.  

Bronze Medal of Honor Recipients

Incident date: January 10, 2009
Sanitation Worker Kenny Swain, Staten Island 1
Sanitation Worker Steve Manganaro, Staten Island 1

On January 10, 2009, while completing their collection route, Sanitation Workers Swain and Manganaro stopped at a light on Forest Avenue on Staten Island when they saw smoke billowing from a few row houses on Jewett Avenue.  Immediately, they parked their collection truck and ran down the street toward the fire just as it erupted and engulfed several homes.  The fire was so intense that they could not enter any of the burning buildings. Instead, the two Sanitation Workers went from door-to-door alerting neighboring residents of the fire.  Unfortunately, there were two fatalities due to the fire. 

Incident date: March 24, 2009
Sanitation Worker Ivan Waldo, Bronx Lot Cleaning Unit
Sanitation Worker Ron Jackson, Bronx Lot Cleaning Unit

On March 24, 2009, while on lot cleaning duties in the Bronx, Sanitation Workers Waldo and Jackson heard screams coming from a nearby school yard. They observed a group of young males surrounding three young girls. As they approached the group, they observed the males groping and inappropriately touching the young girls. The Sanitation Workers called out for the boys to stop.  When the Sanitation Workers got closer, the young males fled.  The Sanitation Workers then called a teacher in another part of the yard who informed the Assistant Principal.  Police Officers from the 40th Precinct took the Sanitation Workers’ statements. The young girls were able to point out the males who were later arrested.

Incident date:  October 2, 2009
Sanitation Worker Daniel McCormick, Queens East 11

On October 2, 2009, while on recycling collection, Sanitation Worker Richard Timmins suddenly slumped over the steering wheel of his collection truck in Queens.  Immediately, his partner, Sanitation Worker McCormick, parked the collection truck and determined that Sanitation Worker Timmins was unresponsive.  Sanitation Worker McCormick dialed 911 for assistance and began performing CPR on SW Timmins.  When police and EMS responded to the scene, both continued to administer CPR on Sanitation Worker Timmins, who was transported to Queens General Hospital.  Despite everyone’s best efforts, Sanitation Worker Timmins was pronounced dead at the hospital.


Stu Loeser / Jason Post   (212) 788-2958

Vito Turso   (Sanitation)
(646) 885-5020

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