The Daily Voice - August 02, 2012by Caries Italia
This is the mayor's second fire commissioner in less than a year. The previous commissioner, George Kielb, resigned after just six months and left Spano with a nationwide search throughout the month of July. Spano said he contacted Sweeney two weeks ago after first talking to candidates from Yonkers.
"My option is always to find someone in-house," Spano said. "But Bob has a stellar reputation with the FDNY, and any chance you get to bring in someone like him, you do it. It also says a lot about our city and our department that we can have someone of his caliber interested in us."
Spano said Kielb's resignation did not deter him from looking in-house. "I'm not sure what the biggest issues were in that situation," Spano said. "He might have had too many relationships in the department, and it might have been tough for him to make certain decisions."
In 33 years with the New York Fire Department, Sweeney had to deal with the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, as well as severe budget cuts and firehouse closings. In Yonkers, Sweeney said, he is prepared to do more with less.
"I'm well-equipped to handle that," Sweeney said. "I'm used to that arena and those situations, but there really isn't a magic wand. You have to keep morale high and make sure firefighters are heard."
Sweeney would not comment on union issues, as he has been on the job for only one day. "I'm going to get familiar with all of the issues concerning our firefighters here in Yonkers," Sweeney said.
Spano said his search ended two weeks ago when he contacted Sweeney.
"It was a really tough decision for me to leave," Sweeney said. "I wasn't looking for another job. This came out of nowhere and I couldn't ignore the opportunity. I'm going to miss the camaraderie of the FDNY. When you are at any job that long, usually the next step is retirement."
Sweeney is expected to go unopposed in November's election.