The West Virginia Public Safety Expo will be held at the Charleston Civic Center beginning May 18th and running through May 22nd. This year’s event kicks off with an Emergency Vehicle Parade through the streets of Charleston followed by a banquet featuring keynote speaker Richard Picciotto. Below is Chief Picciott’s bio.
Registration is now open on the Expo’s website: http://www.wvsafetyexpo.com/
Richard “Pitch” Picciotto, the highest-ranking firefighter to survive the World Trade Center collapse, and the last fireman to escape the devastation, Richard “Pitch” Picciotto was on a stairwell between the sixth and seventh floors of the North Tower when it collapsed on September 11, 2001. An FDNY battalion commander, his is the harrowing true story of an American hero, a man who thought nothing of himself and gave nearly everything for others during one of our nation’s darkest hours. Picciotto tells an outspoken account of that indelible day, shaking and inspiring audiences to the core.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Picciotto answered the call heard around the world. In minutes he was at Ground Zero of the worst terrorist attack on American soil. Acting boldly to save innocent lives as the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center began to burn—and then to buckle. Already a veteran of terrorist attacks, Picciotto was present fighting a similar battle after the World Trade Center Bombing in 1993. Again inside the North Tower, where he found himself years earlier, burdened by an eerie sense of familiarity, he focused his concentration on the rescue efforts at hand. But it was there in the smoky stairwells that he heard and felt the South Tower collapse. He then made the call for firemen and rescue workers to evacuate, while he stayed behind with a skeleton team of men to assist a group of disabled and infirm civilians in their struggle to evacuate the inferno. It was there in the rubble of the North Tower that Picciotto found himself buried for more than four hours after the building’s collapse.
Having discovered that members of his team and a 59-year-old grandmother were alive nearby, he and his men used their radios to send out Mayday calls until they made contact with a firefighter on the ground, and a search party was dispatched. When the light finally appeared about four stories above, he climbed upwards, reached the top, and saw the “unfathomable, mind-boggling destruction.” Even then it was not until after he organized the rescue of the others that he walked across the rubble to safety.
Picciotto’s book, Last Man Down, is a tribute to the 343 firefighters and 2,400 civilians who lay dead in the rubble that surrounded him on that day. And moreover, it is a heartfelt remembrance of a day of infamy and profound humanity. The book was an immediate New York Times bestseller upon its release in May 2002.
Chief Picciotto has served as a: New York City Police Officer; Fire Marshal; an Arson Investigator; a Lieutenant; became Chief in 1992. He is a 28-year veteran of the FDNY, and for the past nine years, he has presided over the department’s Battalion 11, covering Manhattan’s Upper West Side. He is the recipient of departmental awards and commendations for his bravery and meritorious service.
See you at the Expo!!