He has climbed the ladder of success.
Frank Nagieri is the longest-serving FDNY firefighter in the city. The 64-year-old from Gravesend, Brooklyn, celebrated his 43rd anniversary at work on September 2.
“With this job, you will laugh everyday on your way to work. And sometimes you’ll cry. But laughter is definitely more than crying,” the Stony Point, NY, resident told The Post.
Laughter was quick and often when his seasoned colleague “smashed his chops” as a hoax by fabricating stories that his mother had called him to the firehouse to ask him to eat his vegetables. Nagiyari finally stopped the teasing by calling his mother and requesting a vegetable.
“My mother, may her soul rest in peace, may still be laughing,” he said.
The Bee Gees dominated the charts and the first Ben & Jerry’s was opening in Vermont, when Nagieri—the FDNY’s dangerous battalion commander—joined the department in 1978.
In a career spanning six decades, he has been an eyewitness to some of the department’s darkest days, including the Father’s Day fire of 2001, when three firefighters were killed; 1993 World Trade Center bombing and 9/11 attacks.
On 11 September 2001, Nagieri—assigned to the 19th Battalion in the Bronx—arrived after another plane crashed into the South Tower.
“We spent 48 hours there,” he recalled. “I’ve lost a lot of friends and not a day goes by when I don’t think about it.
“Once the dust cleared… I visited my wife. My wife worked right in front of the trade center and we would be downstairs all the time. … It just changed the whole scenario. I just had to take my bearings and say no.” It took me a while to be like, ‘Okay, these buildings aren’t here anymore.'”
He said sadly, “I never thought it would be this horrifying after the Father’s Day fire. I would never imagine that a few months later it would be a hundred times worse.”
He was also appointed chief officer for the FDNY’s Hurricane Katrina response.
In the gallows joke, he jokes, “Don’t hang out with me because it seems like I’m always around a disaster.”
Nagieri’s FDNY career began at Engine Company 255 at Flatbush, followed by Engine 248 in Brooklyn, Engine Company 84 in Harlem, and promotion to Battalion 19 chief before his current position as chief of Hazmat.
His No. 1 goal is “to make sure everyone goes home. … I always tell him, ‘You’re going to have a lot of laughs at this job and you’re going to have a great time and you’re going to learn a lot,’ but It can all change in an instant.So you want to erase [hazards] As much as you can – and hope it’s not your day.’ “
He has his own good luck charm FDNY badge #6122 that he wears that once belonged to his uncle Jack, and pictures of his wife Maria; children, John, Jenna and James, and three grandchildren, Michael, Molly and Jack, that he keeps in his helmet.
The self-confessed “Broadway guy” bikes, runs marathons and enjoys Frank Sinatra. His favorite movie is “The Godfather”.
Of course, like any proud firehouse chef — and Italian — he loves to cook and can “make pasta out of anything.”
And despite the tragedies he has endured, he has no regrets that he has devoted two-thirds of his life to the FDNY, a career that will end when he retires this year.
“My kids tell me they can’t believe that after [all these years] I can’t wait to go to work,” he said.