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Ad­mired FDNY dis­patcher re­tires af­ter 41 yrs.

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY THOMAS TRACY ttracy@nydailynews.com

THE FDNY IS giv­ing a beloved ra­dio dis­patcher a spe­cial sig­noff af­ter a four-decade ca­reer.

Gary Green­baum will be hon­ored Fri­day for his con­tin­u­ous ser­vice to the city, of­fi­cials said.

The Bronx was burn­ing when Green­baum, 66, joined the FDNY as a fire dis­patcher in 1977.

That year, fire­fight­ers re­sponded to 129,619 blazes, ac­cord­ing to the web­site fd­newyork.com

On April 29, he made his last broad­cast: He was retiring af­ter 41 years of ser­vice.

What fol­lowed was 15 min­utes of well-wishes from his col­leagues in the field and in head­quar­ters, in­clud­ing the chief of the FDNY’s Bureau of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, he said.

“It’s sad be­cause you work 12or 18-hour shifts in this job and now you’re leav­ing . . . it’s like leav­ing a sec­ond fam­ily,” said Green­baum. “It’s sad that I won’t be able to help the city.”

Green­baum (photo) joined FDNY’s Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Bureau be­cause both he and his dad were fire buffs who bonded over lis­ten­ing to their scan­ners and go­ing to fire scenes.

“That’s where I learned the job,” he joked. “I al­ready had prior ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore I came on the job.”

His fa­ther would of­ten chip in at emer­gen­cies and was even made an FDNY hon­orary as­sis­tant chief, he ex­plained.

Green­baum dis­patched fire and emer­gency calls for 10 years be­fore he was made a su­per­vi­sor. The rest of his time was spent train­ing and over­see­ing a team of dis­patch­ers. He served in all the five bor­oughs dur­ing his ca­reer, he said. “We re­ceive the alarms and we send the fire ap­pa­ra­tus out to as­sist,” he said. “They may need ad­di­tional help so we help them out if they can.” A unique knowl­edge of the city was key to the job, es­pe­cially in the years be­fore Google Maps, he said. “When I came in in 1977, there were no com­put­ers at all,” he said. “You had to process the sit­u­a­tion, know where it was hap­pen­ing and send the fire­fight­ers there, and we did it in less than a minute. And it was much busier in the ’70s than it was to­day. Last year, fire­fight­ers were dis­patched to 42,423 fires ac­cord­ing to city sta­tis­tics — that’s a 67% drop from 40 years ago.

“I was there for all the evo­lu­tions of com­put­ers,” Green­baum said. “Things changed, but they never went bad.”

“It’s an amaz­ing job, but be­cause of all the se­cu­rity no one could come and see it,” he said. “Most peo­ple think when they are calling 911 they are calling their lo­cal fire­house, but they’re calling us.”

Green­baum will be one of 300 FDNY civil­ian em­ploy­ees who will be hon­ored Fri­day at FDNY head­quar­ters in down­town Brook­lyn for giv­ing their, blood, sweat and tears to the city for 20 to 40 years.

“It’s a very spe­cial depart­ment,” Green­baum added.

“I know I’m be­ing prej­u­diced but not only is it the largest depart­ment, it’s the best depart­ment in the coun­try. It’s very spe­cial to me and I en­joyed serv­ing them for all these years.”

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