YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A long-time Youngstown firefighter is about to hang up his turnout gear for the last time. On Wednesday, one of the city’s battalion chiefs reflected on his career in the fire service.
Silverio Caggiano first joined the Youngstown Fire Department in 1982. Thursday morning when his 24-hour shift ends, he’ll retire as a battalion chief.
“It’s been 39 years of just continual adventure,” he said.
On Wednesday, Caggiano treated his fellow firefighters to lunch to thank them for nearly four decades of hard work.
“Thirty-nine years. I spent one-third of my life in this station, so this was like another whole family to me,” he said.
Over the years, Caggiano has seen the department shrink from 10 stations to now just eight, and from close to 200 firefighters to around 120.
He says some things haven’t changed though.
“Some of these guys are making exactly what I made when I was a rookie fireman,” he said.
But the job isn’t the same.
“On the flip side of the coin is the fires have changed. You’re not dealing with your traditional fires anymore. The stuff we’re putting in our houses is burning hotter and faster,” he said.
Along the way, Caggiano has become something of an expert on hazardous materials. He still sits on the state’s HazMat WMD Technical Advisory Committee and has been interviewed for documentaries on fracking for oil and natural gas.
“You find out about the radiation and you find out about this and you find out about the earthquakes with the injection wells,” he said.
Through it all, after joining the department years ago, planning to just make enough money so he could afford to go to dental school, Caggiano says he leaves the fire service with no regrets.
“As an old friend of mine said, ‘God directs you to where he wants you. You make your plans, God laughs at them and then you go in the direction he wants,'” Caggiano said.
So for now, he says it’s time to leave.