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Disaster Prep and First Response

Steve Buscemi Has a Message About Fire Safety and Preparedness

Photo: Courtesy of Wesley Mann

Before he was an actor, Steve Buscemi was a New York City firefighter for Engine Company No. 55. We spoke with him and retired Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) Lt. Anthony Mussorfiti for their thoughts on fire safety and supporting your local fire department.

How have your experiences as an ex-NYFD firefighter shaped the way you share the fire safety message to others?

Having been a New York City firefighter for a few short years, I never really lost the awareness of the potential for danger, particularly as it relates to fire. So no matter how long it’s been since I’ve been on the job, I find that I do sometimes unconsciously insert a comment regarding fire safety here and there (i.e., “Where are your smoke detectors, man?”).

Has your career in acting helped accentuate your message of supporting firefighters/first responders in times of need?

I’ve been fortunate in that I have the ability to reach a larger audience to relay a message, but I also have stayed in touch with firefighters and am often mentioning the services the Friends of Firefighters offers them. So I find that the combination of my being known both in and outside of the FDNY gives me a unique platform to spread the word about mental health and first responders.

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Anthony Mussorfiti

Retired FDNY Lieutenant

Being a volunteer firefighter is a big commitment. What should people know prior to volunteering? 

Just like being a career firefighter, being a volunteer firefighter can be very exciting and rewarding. Although, just like the career firefighter, a volunteer firefighter is exposed to the same physical and psychological harms and they need to consider the impact it will have on them and their family. That is why anyone who is considering becoming a firefighter takes all the training seriously, because it is through proper training that they are taught how to recognize harms and the actions to protect themselves.

Can you talk a bit on fire safety measures we can take in our homes? 

The first thing I would recommend is to have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home. Working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms save lives by quickly giving you an early warning signal that something is wrong. Fire spreads fast and carbon monoxide is a silent killer. Working alarms are the most critical component of your escape plan. Along with proper installation and maintenance, it is essential that everyone knows what to do if an alarm sounds. If a carbon monoxide alarm sounds, you and your family should get out immediately and call 911. If a smoke alarm sounds, be sure to follow your escape plan. The FDNY Foundation website provides information on how to develop an escape plan.

How beneficial is it to close your door prior to going to sleep at night in terms of fire safety? 

It’s important to keep a door closed while in bed and to close a door if you’re escaping a fire. This simple action will help stop the fire from growing and spreading and is vital to saving lives.

What are some of the most common mistakes that you have witnessed that lead to fires in the home? 

There are several common causes for fires in the home, and the precautions to prevent them are common sense. Cooking pots and pans can overheat and cause a fire very fast if the person cooking gets distracted and leaves them unattended. At the FDNY Fire Zone located in Midtown Manhattan, visitors are taught that they can play a major role in preventing fires and making their homes safer through presentations, hands-on exhibits, and direct interaction with active and retired FDNY firefighters.

Are there any innovations that you witnessed that can be used to better disaster-proof your home for the future?

 The United States Fire Administration provides information on the latest innovations and technologies available to consumers for residential use, although I would recommend that we not just depend on these innovations and technologies to prepare for disasters. September is National Preparedness Month and the theme for 2019 is “Prepared, Not Scared.” I would recommend that people put together a plan with their family on what to do if a disaster strikes. Know which types of disasters could affect your area and how to reconnect if separated. Visit the FEMA Ready site for how to develop a plan.

Staff, [email protected]

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