“He was a humble person,” said his brother, Frederick Spadafora. “No matter how high in the ranks he got, you would never think it.”
Spadafora was a 40-year member of the FDNY, eventually becoming deputy chief.
“He flew up the ranks,” said Chief John Sudnik. “He dedicated his life to keeping the people of our city safe, and to serving the men and women of the New York City Fire Department.”
Spadafora’s greatest call to service came on the morning of September 11, 2001.
According to his brother Nicholas, it was their grandmother’s birthday, and Spadafora had the day off and was doing yard work for his parents on Long Island.
Then the phone rang, and he raced to the World Trade Center.
“He changed the orders for the firemen who were entering the burning towers,” said brother Nicholas. “He made them start getting out, and as a result saved many of them from certain death.
“Ronnie never left the site for a year,” he added. “He gave all he had in him to help us out of this tragedy.”
Spadafora was in charge of the recovery operation at the World Trade Center. He contracted cancer from toxins at Ground Zero and died on June 23 of last year.
“We should all be very proud of Ronnie,” Nicholas said of his brother. “Because Ronnie is truly a national hero.”
Following the speeches, his family unveiled the sign renaming 90th Street “Chief Ronald Spadafora Way.”
“He loved this department, he gave everything he had to it,” Sudnik said. “We remember him today not for how he died, but for the truly inspiring way in which he lived.”
Councilman Eric Ulrich said Spadafora’s life should serve as an inspiration.
“I think it’s so important that we take the time today to reflect on his life to try and make us better people,” he said. “To ask ourselves, what would Ronnie do in this particular situation?”