NY Fire Department on mend
Phoenix hosts 4 firefighters for memorial

By Peter Corbett
The Arizona Republic
March 12, 2002

Hours after the World Trade Center towers collapsed, Steven Mosiello returned to his Long Island neighborhood to tell his boss' family that Fire Chief Peter Ganci Jr. would not be coming home.

Mosiello, the chief's executive assistant and best friend, narrowly escaped when the second tower imploded, trapping Ganci and thousands of others in the fiery rubble.

Now, six months later, Mosiello says the Fire Department of New York is slowly recovering.

"We're a very strong department. That's the nature of our business," he said. "We're going forward."

Mosiello, Battalion Chief Joseph Ramos and firefighters Kevin Glock and Thomas Gaby participated Monday in a ceremony at Phoenix's Legacy Golf Resort marking the six-month observance of Sept. 11. The resort presented a $25,000 check for the department's relief fund.

The event began with the honored guests arriving aboard the Budweiser Clydesdales wagon with the C.C. Jones Orchestra belting out New York, New York.

During their five-day visit, the New York firefighters will golf and swap stories with Phoenix firefighters, take a desert Jeep tour and see a Coyotes hockey game.

Bob Khan, an assistant fire chief in Phoenix, said the visit is an opportunity for the New Yorkers to get their minds off the tragedy and enjoy the weather.

"We lost (Phoenix firefighter) Bret Tarver almost a year ago," Khan said. "They lost 343 firefighters."

Rebuilding New York's Fire Department is challenging and will take a long time, said Mosiello, a 23-year veteran.

He noted the 4,440 years of experience the department lost, without touching on the emotional toll of Sept. 11.

As usual, Mosiello was side by side with Ganci when the first tower collapsed. Ganci sent Mosiello to reposition two fire trucks when the second tower collapsed. Mosiello survived by staying close to the trucks as the debris rained down.

"I'm calling (on the radio), 'Chief Ganci: Car 3A to Car 3, Car 3.' " Mosiello said in an interview after the tragedy. "He never answered. I kind of knew something had happened."

Rescuers pulled the chief's body from the rubble about 3:30 p.m., and Mosiello left to deliver the news to Ganci's family.

"I buried my father two years ago and it wasn't as difficult as this," Mosiello said. "The daughter said to me, 'How can you walk up our driveway without my father? You never did that before.' "

Mosiello and Ganci lived across the street from each other in North Massapequa on Long Island. They worked and played golf together.

Mosiello retrieved the chief's golf clubs from the trunk of his crushed car at ground zero.

"Today was a lot of soul searching; maybe a little survivors guilt to be on a golf course without my best friend," Mosiello said. "But it's another step in the right direction, and my friend Peter would want me to."

Each workday, Ganci came over at 5:30 a.m. for coffee before the two left for their Brooklyn office.

Now, Mosiello drives alone to work and Ganci's family - his wife and three grown children - are coping with the loss.

"As each day goes forward, it is getting easier for them," Mosiello said. "They are dealing with it as well as any family can that has lost a husband and father."

He said he also is trying to move on. He recalls being so numb this past autumn that he barely recalls attending a World Series game in Yankee Stadium.

Mosiello said he appreciates the worldwide support the Fire Department received, but he notes that the firefighters were doing their jobs.

"Everybody who died that day is a hero, even if there has been more emphasis on the firefighters and police officers.

"In my heart, everyone who died that day is a hero. They died for our country."

Reach the reporter at peter.corbett@arizonarepublic.com or (602) 444-4815.