October 21, 2016
On October 21, 2016, Chief of Department James E. Leonard joined the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Reserve in Staten Island to dedicate the “Jeff Palazzo Hall Memorial” - a new building at USCG Station New York, in honor of Jeff Palazzo, a fallen Firefighter of Rescue 5 and USCG member.
Firefighter Palazzo was one of the 343 FDNY members that made the Supreme Sacrifice on September 11th, 2001. Prior to Firefighter Palazzo’s FDNY career, he served with distinction in the United States Coast Guard as a Machinery Technician (MK) - 1st Class. MK1 Palazzo responded to many high-profile incidents and large-scale emergencies, including the sinking of the Bronx Queen, a charter boat off the Rockaways in rough seas during the winter of 1989. Seventeen passengers from the sinking ship were successfully saved from frigid waters.
Chief Leonard remembered the outstanding service of Firefighter Palazzo as a New York City Firefighter, United States Guardsman, father, husband, and son.
“It’s tough to say too many good things about a man like Jeff – someone who dedicated his entire life to serving others,” said Chief Leonard.
Chief Leonard highlighted how the FDNY and USCG draw upon similar values and mission, stating “our members work closely together to respond to emergencies on the waterways of New York City every single day. Firefighter Jeff Palazzo is one of the many to serve both groups, and his memory and legacy are forever part of the tremendous bond between our two organizations.”
FDNY members spoke of Firefighter Palazzo’s character and notable rescue operations:
“…He was a very meticulous person, top of his game whether USCG or FDNY. He was very unassuming, a professional in every way,” said Firefighter Joe Esposito of Rescue 5. “He was very good in ropes, SCUBA, and took his job very seriously.”
Firefighter John Lawton of Ladder Company 42 and former USCG member recalls Firefighter Palazzo’s work ethic:
“He was really good in [probationary] school, went to Ladder 109, well liked. In the USCG he was an all-star, went above and beyond all the time. In Jeff’s case I can’t find anything bad about him.”
Firefighter Lawton also reflected on Firefighter Palazzo rising to the occasion in challenging rescue operations, such as when a small cruise ship with New York City tourists capsized.
“Golden venture, small cruise ship filled with 100 Chinese immigrants, they all jumped overboard and tried to run into NYC, coast guard float flipped and washed up on the beach, [Palazzo] saved over 100 Chinese immigrants drowning and then saved the USCG boat. His persona, work ethic is undeniable and carried on in the FDNY. That’s why at 5 years he got on a rescue company, which is a testament to how great of a guy he is.”
FDNY members, Firefighter Palazzo’s family, friends, and representatives of the Staten Island Borough President’s office and officials of the Coast Guard were present for the ceremony.
For photos of the Jeff Palazzo Hall Memorial, click here