Timely for 2020 Fire Prevention Week, Drew and Nancy Carbone talk about the work Friends of Firefighters have done to support mental wellness and mental health.

Created after the tragedies of September 11th, Friends of Firefighters is a  501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing free, confidential mental health and wellness services.

Their board of advisors includes a cast of FDNY officials and other industry leaders, including Steve Buscemi and Gary Sinise. Later in the conversation, Nancy describes their influence on the recently 2020 Judd Apatow movie, The King of Staten Island. A comedy-drama featuring Pete Davidson, the story really resonates with what Friends of Firefighters is all about.

Listen to the Audio


Introductions (2:30)
History / What they do (3:56)
Helping out the families (8:18)
September 11th Sicknesses / Suicides (11:00)
Separation from the FDNY (13:18)
Vincent Dunn (14:32)
Outreach Team (18:12)
COVID effects (19:10)
Back to School initiative (23:46)
NY Fire Sprinkler Contractor’s Association (28:20)
Steve Buscemi (Board of Advisors) (29:20)
NYC Comedy-Drama, The King of Staten Island Movie(31:30)
Pete Davidson (33:20)
Friends of Firefighters beyond NYC (38:46)
Contact Info (40:46)

Discussed in this Episode: FriendsofFirefighters.org, #TheKingOfStatenIsland

About Friends of Firefighters

Created after the tragedies of September 11th, Friends of Firefighters is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing free, confidential mental health and wellness services. Headquartered in a revitalized firehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn with satellite counseling offices throughout the city and Long Island. Since 2001, the organization has expanded to meet the growing needs of the FDNY community by providing a range of peer support programs, financial guidance, expert counseling, and wellness services, all of which are offered by a team of professional staff sensitive to and knowledgeable about the firefighter culture. view website

About Nancy Carbone

Nancy is the Founder and Executive Director of Friends of Firefighters. She plays a key role in outreach as the primary spokesperson and liaison to the firehouses and unions. Nancy is an Honorary Battalion Chief of the New York City Fire Department and has been honored with the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the FDNY Holy Name Society, the FDNY Columbus Association, and the New Orleans Fire Department; the Dedicated Service Award by the Uniformed Firefighters Association, the Uniformed Public Service Award from the Caron Foundation, and is an Honorary Member of the FDNY Honor Legion. Nancy is a graduate of the Institute for Not-for-Profit Management’s Executive Level Program at the Columbia University School of Business.

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Drew Slocum: (00:11):

This is episode 25 of the Fire Protection Podcast, powered by Inspect Point. Today, my guest is Nancy Carbone. She’s the founder and executive director of Friends of Firefighters. Friends of Firefighters is a nonprofit organization that works with the firefighting community in New York City and beyond, uh, with active and retired firefighters and their families to provide free, confidential mental health and wellness. Um, you know, she founded it back on nine 11 with, with everything that went on, and it’s, it’s grown tremendously since then. I’ve been involved, uh, for the last few years with friends of Firefighters, uh, all the good they’re doing, uh, throughout New York City and beyond. Um, and it’s, it’s a topic that doesn’t really get discussed as much. You know, firefighters are, are this, uh, uh, brave and, and, and tough, um, personalities, and sometimes, sometimes they need help too. Um, so Nancy and her team do a great job reaching out to the firefighter community and their, and their, and their families.

They’ve actually, since, since Covid happened and the pandemic happened, they’ve had to kind of shift a little bit with some of their services. And, uh, they’re, they’re starting to work with more of the, the people on the ground, even EMTs. You know, EMTs are part of the F D N Y as well. So there, there’s a lot of, um, stress on, on those first line responders. Um, so they’re providing some, uh, extra assistance for them. Um, yeah, I appreciate everybody listening in. It’s a, it’s a’s a great conversation with a great cause. So feel free to check them out@friendsoffirefighters.org. Starting October 4th through the 11th is Fire Prevention Week. Um, and I thought of this, uh, a few weeks ago, but inspect point’s, going to be donating, uh, a hundred dollars for every, uh, demo that is requested in, in Fire Prevention Week. So, uh, if you are listening in, um, book a demo so we can, uh, we can get the numbers up for Friends of Firefighters. So appreciate all the, the things that, that, that Nancy and her team do and, uh, enjoy the podcast. So thank thanks Nancy, for, for joining the Fire Protection, uh, podcast here today. Um, you know, I, I know we, we’ve, we’ve chatted over the years. You’ve done some great things. I’ve, I’ve, I forgot Jackie, my, my wife’s friend introduced us way back in the day. Yes. And, um, so, yeah, let me, I’ll, I’ll let you kind of introduce yourself, what f Friends of Firefighter, uh, does in New York City and beyond. So, uh, yeah. Nancy Carbon, executive director, and, uh, co-founder of Friends of Firefighters.

Nancy Carbone: (03:04):

Well, drew, thank you, and thanks for having me on. Um, it’s really an honor. Um, you know, first of all, it’s really important to me, for me to state emphatically that if you surround yourself with good people, you can do nothing but look good. So, um, I’m surrounded by good people and, uh, people that wanna make a difference. And in the fire world, um, it’s, it’s, there’s a, there’s a particular way to offer help to firefighters and the firefighter community, and it’s with deep respect and the knowledge that the fire community is really tribal. So, uh, with that in mind, uh, there are certain things that have to be abided by, and the number one thing is confidentiality. If you’re told something, you, you never repeat it. So, um, we operate out of New York City, started right after nine 11, um, very organically seat of my pants, sort of, uh, I, I just listened to the firefighters who expressed a need for mental health, um, counseling in the days fo following nine 11, uh, and, uh, became more pronounced as months and years passed by.

Uh, we started actually, uh, with my car, just delivering things to the firehouses, uh, that they had asked for. They needed bunting for the houses. Uh, they needed certain things for the funerals, help with writing eulogies, um, printing things up, uh, any, anything that the house needed. I tried to provide through the generosity of neighbors, um, and oftentimes, uh, just, just being there to help in any capacity that they decided needed to be done. But early on, they asked if I could help them, uh, get counselors. And that was probably the most difficult thing, because I saw that as, um, their entrusting, uh, a real responsible, uh, daunting, actually responsibility to me. And, um, it took several months. Um, they asked me to open up a place where they could go outside of the firehouse to get counseling. And at that point, it really was just me, uh, and some neighborhood people.

And, um, I was fortunate to, to partner at the time with Safe Horizon, who had gotten money to provide counseling to first responders, but hadn’t gotten in the door. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So that was the beginning of Friends of Firefighters using them. And then we built up, uh, enough counseling sessions where we actually started to raise money. This was in the second year, going into the third. Um, and, uh, I started hiring a staff. Wow. So, at the beginning, it was really just, uh, no one got paid <laugh>, it was just, uh, it was just a series of fortunate, uh, meetings that allowed me to partner. And, uh, I believe I, I’m not quite sure, I think the American Red Cross initially gave the money to Safe Horizon. At any rate, the American Red Cross then, uh, sponsored us, and then they became donors. And between, uh, the American Red Cross and Robin Hood Foundation, we were able to establish what is now a solid, um, organization with five locations.

And we operate, um, we’ve got four counselors on, we have to hire another. We just hired, uh, another fire, um, another, uh, counselor list month, and her plate is already full, so, wow. We’ll get to this, I’m sure. But covid has sort of changed everything. So, um, yeah, for us, we, we, believe it or not, we’re ready for it. But, um, just staying with the early years, uh, the hardest thing was building trust. Um, and really, luckily for me, I had no idea that that was what I was doing. I was honestly just helping where I could, trying to do the right thing. Sure. Uh, and, and, and that in hindsight is where the trust came in. Um, if I messed up, I said it right away, and I, and I fixed it if I could. Uh, luckily nothing was too bad. And, um, you know, when I say mess up, it never was with counseling.

Right. Uh, if I messed up, it was with, uh, taking a phone call too late or something like that, you know, it was innocuous. It was really minimal. But, um, it was clear from the beginning that it was, um, unusual, I’ll, I’ll use that word, that a firefighter would ask for help, uh, to ask for counseling in 2001. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, um, as the years passed, and firefighters were, the suicide rate was going up, firefighters were getting sick with nine 11 cancer mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it became less and less of, um, a, a stigma. Right. Although that does still exist. It doesn’t exist to the degree that it did. Uh, I don’t think that there are firefighters now in New York City that get ridiculed for going for counseling. Right. When, when it, when nine 11 happened, yes. That was the case.

Drew Slocum: (08:10):

Wow. Wow. Yeah. It, it’s crazy. It’s, it hasn’t even been that long. I know. We, we just went through the 19th anniversary and all that mm-hmm. <affirmative> mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And it’s a, it’s a quick change. I know you’re, your, you’re heavily busy and, you know, providing that counseling and, and even beyond that with some of the other, uh, I, I know due to Covid, you can’t have all the, the talks that used to, and we’ve been involved in a few of those, but mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, yeah. You provide a lot to the, the firefighting community, and you also deal with the, the families as well, right?

Nancy Carbone: (08:43):

Oh, yeah. I, I don’t think that you’re helping the firefighter if you’re not helping the family, because you could work with a firefighter and he or she will, they’ll make progress. But unless the family is also offered that help, whether or not they take it, that’s up to them. But unless they’re offered the help, um, you, it’s, it’s almost as if you are dismissing the sacrifice that the family maker, the family member is giving on a daily basis. Every time a firefighter goes out that door, the family kind of holds their breath till he or she comes back. It’s a very, very dangerous job. It, it is a stressful job for the first responder, but it’s different kind of stress for the family member at home. Um, you know, the first responder, I don’t know many first responders that don’t love their job. I mean, love it.

And, you know, you hear guys say, I do this for free, uh, which you don’t really wanna hear, but it, there’s a reward in doing their work. And for the family member at home, uh, especially, it’s something as catastrophic, uh, as nine 11 where so many lives were lost. Uh, the spouse thinks that could have been my husband or wife. Right. And the children think that could have been my mom or dad. Uh, so that, that actually reverberates for years. Years. And it kind of, certainly for the children, it’s part of their formative years. And to have that kind of a significant loss, and I’m talking about the, the, the victims of nine 11 both killed on nine 11, died after nine 11 of, of nine 11 illness, and who survived and are not sick, but expect to be sick, this is hanging over them. Yeah. So, it’s a stressor for the families. And so without offering them the support, um, really what you’re offering is a bandaid. Yeah. And what you wanna do is to offer them hope and tools and a way to move forward and develop a new norm.

Drew Slocum: (10:48):

Yeah. It, it, it’s, it’s, uh, it’s interesting, you know, being involved, uh, the whole way. I know you’re heavily involved with some of the, you know, the, and I don’t, it gets publicized a little bit, but you know, the, the after effects of just the sickness, sickness is that were, were caused from nine 11. I mean, you probably have more of the stats than, than anything. I mean, you’re constantly involved with that, you know, 19 years later.

Nancy Carbone: (11:16):

Yeah. And I’ll tell you, um, I would never give a stat because it’s constantly moving. Constantly moving. Yeah. And no one can give you a, an accurate number on the suicides. Sure. Uh, because really, uh, there are, there, it’s been, it’s unusual for a firefighter to commit suicide. It is unusual. It’s, it’s unfortunately more common that, uh, an officer, a police officer would do that, or military member, they’re, they’ve got the access to the weapons more readily. Um, they don’t have the kitchen table. They don’t have that comradery. Right. Um, like the firehouse does, but still, in all the, the firefighter suicide increased after nine 11, uh, where there were completed suicides, um, or attempted suicides. And, you know, our hope is that we can, oh, gosh, wouldn’t it be great to, to eradicate it, but at least bring the number down Sure. If you can. So the idea is to help that firefighter through whatever he or her are going through, right. To give them hope, and really ultimately to give them hope to the point where they get through it and turn around and help the one behind them. Right. And that’s really what the whole, that’s, that’s what the job is.

Drew Slocum: (12:29):

Yeah. Yeah. It’s a brotherhood or sisterhood, you know.

Nancy Carbone: (12:32):

Absolutely. Well, no, it’s a brotherhood. And and I always include the women in that too. Um, it’s, it, it is a family. It’s a family, and they do help each other. And so, you know, our hope is that we catch the ones that are falling through the cracks that for whatever reason, don’t want to go to counseling services unit that the fire department has, which by the way, is excellent. But if there’s a perception that it’s going to hamper, damper their, dampen their career or get, um, into their records, somehow, uh, they’re not going. And then there’s a gap. And if there’s a gap, there’s a risk. Yeah. And if there’s a risk, then it’s not just that first responder who’s hurting, it’s the whole family. So our hope is that we catch those who would otherwise go through the cracks.

Drew Slocum: (13:18):

Yeah. And that, and that’s great. You know, that separation is good for, you know, you obviously privacy and all that. And, and, uh, it is just another entity as well to put a, put a a, you know, a different goal on it. I mean, y your one goal is, is to, to provide this counseling and, uh, you know, rehabilitation, what, whatever it may be, just somebody to talk to. Yeah. Um, yeah. So,

Nancy Carbone: (13:43):

Um, but it’s not our only one goal, but that is predominantly it. I mean, I think that, you know, there are different ways, um, there, I, I believe that there are different ways to reach, uh, not a, a, a good quality life. Uh, uh, your mental health is stable. You feel good about things. It’s not always sitting in a room with somebody talking about your feelings. Uh, sometimes it’s working on a car, sometimes it’s coming with a hammer and, and working on your buddy’s roof. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, you know, there, there are many different ways. Uh, so what we try to do here is we’ve, we’ve got acupuncture, we’ve got, uh, different wellness modules, like a yoga. Um, we have, uh, you, you alluded to the, uh, kitchen talks where we had firefighters coming together, and then we’d have a speaker come and talk about different subjects.

I think, uh, several of, Vinny Dunn is one of them. He’s written, he’s now working on his 10th book in his eighties. And, uh, he is the go-to guy Oh, yeah. For building collapse. Oh, yeah. Vinny’s it. So he’ll come, well, not now with Covid, but, uh, he came, he’d fill the house, firefighters would cook dinner, and it was an opportunity to, to really bridge a gap that happened post nine 11, where a significant percentage of the senior firefighters and officers retired. And then there was a massive gap never seen before in the fire department, because now you’ve lost 343 on the day of, at 344, if you count. And I do Keith Roma from, uh, fire patrol. And what happened then is there was a massive exodus, um, and firefighters and officers left. And now there are houses, not right now, but at the time, there were houses whose senior person on that day when I called, had three years on, four years on.

Um, this does not diminish their experience, nor who they are, but, you know, historically, a senior person in the firehouse had 25, 30 years on, not three. So it was scary for them, you know, I, I, I didn’t like knowing it either. But, but they really, they trained, they pushed through and we, I think, filled a gap in knowledge, which I was asked to do by former, um, fire, uh, the chief of department. Um, and I think, uh, Eddie Kilduff, he referred to the, the information being lost by these very senior members mm-hmm. <affirmative> leaving before they really wanted to, most of them. Um, so a lot of them were very happy to come back and, and just share the information that they had learned. Several of them had been here for the war years, so they were able to refer to, uh, you know, the blackout in New York City.

Right. You know, so we’ve had, uh, tremendous, tremendous speakers come in to talk about their experiences. And, uh, that was another service. And, and it helps the presenter, um, because they feel needed mm-hmm. <affirmative>, which everyone needs. Yep. They feel like they’re helping others. And it helps, obviously, it helps the firefighters who are in attendance to learn about another period of time in the department and, and ask questions. Why is it this way? And, you know, so it was really nice for them to have that comradery. We also had breakfasts, uh, where Tony Catano stood guard right. Up until May 30th. We just lost him to cancer. Yeah. Uh, nine 11 cancer. And Tony had 40, almost three years on the job. And he would do a breakfast the second Wednesday of every month, and firefighters would come and, uh, and he would share, you know, himself, he would share himself with everyone in the room.

And he was, uh, gosh, he was everyone’s confidant. He was mine. Yeah. He was, so many firefighters would go to him. So that’s the world we’re in. So if, if we came in and said, oh, we have a counseling service for you, frankly, I wouldn’t wanna go. Sure. So what we did is we, we, we slowly came in not knowing exactly what we were doing. We were asked to start something, or I was, and, uh, it’s developed now into, uh, I, I think we do a fantastic job. I think our counselors are, I know our counselors are wonderful, and what we do is very unique because we’re specific to F D N Y, fire, fire World.

Drew Slocum: (18:11):

Yep. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And you have a great outreach team as well, going out to all the houses, right?

Nancy Carbone: (18:17):

Yes. Yes. We now have three members of the outreach team. I would love to have another two <laugh>, but yeah, we have three really wonderful ones, and they go to every single firehouse twice through the yearly. So that’s, uh, quite, quite a lot. And, uh, that’s to just get the information out there. And oftentimes, uh, you know, the firefighters know we exist, but they’re not quite sure. Sure. You, you know, firefighters, they, when they want the information, they’ll take it all in, in a heartbeat. Sure. But if they don’t need it, it’s, you know, uh, yeah, I heard about it. And then they, they’re not really too interested. Um, but luckily they hear about us time and time again. And, and now more and more know who we are and what we do.

Drew Slocum: (18:58):

Yeah. I mean, I know you guys have done a lot over, over the years. I’ve known a lot about, about it. Um, what has, you know, what has changed with the, the last nine months or so? I mean, you did a lot of in-person outreach mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, how, how does, how has Covid affected that? And you have a whole, whole nother rash of, of issues is you have first responders out there that are, are, are making these calls. They’re, they’re the, the ones right on the front line. So, um mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and a lot of people don’t know that the F D N Y does include both EMTs and, and the firefighters. So, um, yes. Different divisions, but they, you know, they’re all dispatchers and dispatchers

Nancy Carbone: (19:40):

And dispatchers. So, you know, there’s a couple of things there. One, one, you know, you talk about how we have morphed in the past nine months. It’s interesting because in January of this year, our, our clinical supervisor asked me if we could consider going online to help the firefighters who are unable to come in for any reason, uh, whether they moved away or they’re not well, or whatever reason. And I thought that was a fabulous idea. So we signed off on it, um, in late January, and we got a HIPAA compliant platform in which to do virtual, um, uh, counseling sessions. And when Covid hit in March, we actually were at a breakfast on March 12th at the firehouse. And, um, uh, I called it and said, I’m shutting down the firehouse. Everybody’s gotta go, you know, to wherever they’re gonna go. But they can’t be here.

We’re not gonna meet in groups. I’m gonna hold off on ca on, uh, outreach until we know exactly what’s needed, and we’re going virtual, so everything is going to be virtual. We were already set up for that. Wow. So that was really good. Um, and, uh, somebody said to me, when do you see us coming back? And I said, 2021. Oh. And I wasn’t being flipped. Yeah. I wasn’t being flipped. I, I, I didn’t wanna give anybody hope that we’d be back in a month. Uh, and then my own family got quite ill, so they were sick for several weeks. And, um, you know, that, that was, that was where obviously, that’s where my attention was. But, uh, also very well aware because I worked still through that, uh, that the firefighters and EMTs were going into horrific, horrific situations where they were getting DOAs every two minutes.

There was a day where it was just constant. And they were very cognizant of the fact that they’re now in the thick of it. They’re getting exposed to something that hadn’t truly been identified yet, certainly wasn’t curable yet, um, and still isn’t, and then going home Sure. Sometimes to vulnerable sick wives, children, husbands, parents. Uh, I know of at least two firefighters who rented RVs, parked them on their lawn and lived there. Wow. I know firefighters who didn’t leave the firehouse. I know firefighters who were in hotels. One lived in his basement because he got covid, and he was quite ill for about two and a half weeks. So this impacted, uh, our population very, very heavily. Uh, and that doesn’t even get into the mental health piece of it, which is devastating. Now, you mentioned EMTs, em, you know, the, the anyone on an ambulance is doing a job.

I know I could never do mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I could never do it. And I’ve got respect. We don’t have the resources. If we had the money, we’d take them in, in a heartbeat because we need to. But our mission is F D N Y, firefighters, active and retired, and their families with an influx of funding. We would expand that because these people worked so hard selflessly, and I know they saved lives, but I also know they were the last people that met all too many thousands of people saw in New York City from March all the way through. And still, still we’re losing people. Uh, certainly not like we were in March, April and, and May. But, um, you know, that, that that ability to be giving, and at that volume where they were constantly rushing out and seeing this death, um, this pandemic is absolutely devastating. And it’s, it’s very frightening. Yeah. And they were there on the front lines. So, uh, you know, that, that’s something I think, you know, we, we, we try so hard to reach so many people. Um, and that’s one of the things I would love to do is expand it to include these very, very, very deserving hardworking first responders.

Drew Slocum: (23:41):

Yeah. Yeah. And looks like you, you know, I know we talked, uh, a couple months ago, it looks like you’re doing something about helping with, uh, back to school and all that since,

Nancy Carbone: (23:50):

Since you’re, yeah. So, well, the, the, the <laugh> the school, uh, situation, public school in New York City is, is, it seems to be changing, uh, not, well, almost on a daily basis. Uh, right now, the parents are really not informed as to what the actual plan is. They did reopen. Now, they’re not reopening, they’re part, uh, virtual part in person. Uh, people are getting sick. The numbers are starting to climb as expected. And then there are politics, which I will not get into. Uh, so what we decided to do is to offer parents options where we would have something we’re calling study hall, where they would be in a safe environment, and so that their parents could work or do what they needed to do, um, and that their children would be well cared for. You know, we would have a small number. They would be separated.

We’d have the, the screens in place, the masks in place, et cetera. Uh, everything would be sanitized. Um, and, uh, with the parents not knowing exactly what the next move is for the, the schools, uh, we have received a response. We have interested people, but we haven’t gotten it up and going yet. And we’re really waiting for a decision to be made by the schools. Sure. Um, by the city, by the mayor, uh, before we’re able to really implement this. But we’re ready. And, and you know, the thing is, what we did from the very, very beginning is to leave our mission absolutely steady. We don’t move from it. However, the way we meet our goals is always flexible. Yep. We had Hurricane Sandy. We were out in the fields immediately pulling out, you know, we were, we were pumping out the basements, ripping down the walls, and I was there.

Our counselors were out in the field getting information, who needs counseling, who needs to get the kids in school? Everybody hit the ground. We had firefighters that volunteered from all over, frankly, the world, but particularly the United States. Um, we had, um, new Orleans sent three groups of firefighters in, uh, they, they were a hoot. Uh, we had, um, 36, and we’ve remained good friends to this day with all of them, uh, with, um, Iowa, um, Minnesota, la uh, they just came from everywhere, Biloxi. And we’ve remained good friends because That’s great. They came, you know, when we needed them. So what, what happened here for Sandy is we immediately morphed into, um, it was almost like a camp. Um, we’re in this old firehouse. It’s, it’s circa 1870, and we got hit. And, uh, we had about four feet of water on Sandy. And these firefighters came seemingly out of nowhere four days after it hit.

And they decontaminated our building and started to build out, um, a place with shower. And we, we had a shower, but it wasn’t functioning. We had no heat, no electric, and, and they were camping here. Wow. Uh, and I went out and I bought 14 bunk beds. And then we just had basically a base camp, and we would send the firefighters that came to help out to the fields to help firefighters, um, with their own homes. And my, my feeling was that if you help one firefighter, you have 10 more people that are being helped after him or her. Sure. So it was, get them on their feet so that they can help others. And that, that was a formula that worked.

Drew Slocum: (27:14):

Wow. That I, that’s interesting. You helped one firefighter, you helped on others. That’s, I like

Nancy Carbone: (27:19):

That. Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, you can, yes, we help firefighters, but you don’t ignore the veteran that lives next door. Right. You don’t ignore the single mother or the child who’s sick or, you know, we, we prioritize, we had nine 11, uh, cancer patients who were F D N Y. We had to prioritize. Uh, but we tried so hard, uh, to help as many people as we could. And we did. We did. We did a really good job. I’m, I’m very proud of, of our organization, and I’m really blessed to know the people that responded.

Drew Slocum: (27:58):

No, I, I, I really, uh, uh, really enjoy, uh, seeing, seeing how your friends of firefighters have, has really evolved over the years. I was, I was introduced, you know, by, by my wife’s, by my wife and my wife’s friend, uh, a few years back. And I, I really kind of gravitated toward the, um, the outreach that you’re doing. And, um, you know, I’m the executive director of the, the Sprinkler chapter of New York as well, the New York Fire Sprinkler Contractors Association. So we’re trying to do as much as we can to, to, to help you out. Love to do more here in the future, obviously. Um, it’s a tough year for everybody and, and all that it is. And, um, yeah. You know, it’s, it’s, uh, is there any, I know, um, your board of advisors is, is, uh, quite intriguing as well. <laugh> <laugh>,

Nancy Carbone: (28:50):

So, yeah, it is. It is. But, um, you know, it’s funny because while some of them are famous, some of them are to me, um, you know, we’ve, we’ve got, uh, fire officers and firefighters on our boards, and, uh, they to me are, are just, uh, equally wonderful. But yes, we do have celebrities on our, uh, board. And probably the one who is, is closest to the organization. Actually, no, I can’t say that. Two of them are, it’s Gary Sinise and, and, uh, Steve Emi. And I, you know, I smile when I think of Steve, because Steve was actually in the car with me when I would go out to the Rockaways and he was pumping basements with me. Wow. And he was ripping walls down with me day after day after day. And, and he’d get in the car and he’d go, Nancy, could we get home before dark today? And it’d be like six

Drew Slocum: (29:39):

In the morning.

Nancy Carbone: (29:39):

And I’d say, I can’t promise, but I’ll do my best. And, uh, just a sweetheart, really, you know, he was a firefighter in New York City and, um, never forgot where he came from. And he’s just so, uh, he’s, he’s just so wonderful. And he, um, there’s no pretense. Right. He doesn’t, you know, people were seeing Steve Buscemi come and clean out their basement, and, uh, they were in a state of shock anyway, because of what had happened and the enormity of it. And it just felt good that he never forgot where he came from. It felt good to everyone, myself included, that he was just rolling his sleeves up. Um, you know, and Gary Sinise, same thing. Gary. Gary supports us. Gary’s in California. Yep. But I know full well he’d be rolling his sleeves up too. Oh, yeah. Skip Sath. Skip was in third watch.

He played Sully. He and I have been friends for many years. He, uh, actually used to live with Gary Sinise, and Gary introduced me to Skip. But we’ve been good friends, and Skip and his wife are helping us now. She’s a fashion designer. Oh, wow. But, you know, Marian Fontana, Marion lost her husband Dave, uh, from Squad one on nine 11. She’s an author, uh, playwright. She’s, she’s fantastic. Uh, you know, chief John Plan, you know, Kevin Gallagher, Tony Musi, these are all firefighters, uh, and, and very, uh, very invested. Sure. On, on a personal level Sure. With the success of Friends of Firefighters, because that’s what determines helping the brothers and sisters is our success.

Drew Slocum: (31:14):

Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s real entry. And, and, and all them giving back is, is is incredible. It’s, it’s, uh, yeah. And it’s, it’s right to kind of what they believe in as well. I know, uh, back in the, I think springtime or you guys had a, a, it’s funny, I follow a lot of New York City comedy, you know, <laugh>, you know, in Brooklyn and the Comedy Cellar. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and I, I’m a big comedy nut mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, uh, it, it’s, it, it’s a tree. Cuz all of a sudden, you know, I fall out of what’s happening at the Comedy Cellar, and all of a sudden Nancy Carbon and Friends of Firefighters is having a benefit for a lot of the comedy seller. And I’m like, I don’t know what’s going on here. Um, <laugh> and they released, you know, uh, Pete Davidson and, and, uh, j Apatow, their, their movie there, king of Staten Island. Was, uh, you guys were at kind of involved in that,

Nancy Carbone: (32:08):

You know? Well, you know, on, on, on a level that I can’t speak of because, uh, no, I, you know, Judd was so, so generous. He and Pete did a benefit in Staten Island, uh, and, uh, they got a bunch of comedians together to raise money for us. And it was, it was mind blowing. It was just fantastic. They raised $75,000 for us. Wow.

Drew Slocum: (32:28):


Nancy Carbone: (32:29):

We’re so grateful. So grateful. That’s amazing. And they don’t know it, but at the time, it, it made or break, you know, it could make or break you when you get that kind of money when you’re a nonprofit. And, uh, you know, one of the members of our board, Danny Prince, Danny Prince is known throughout the department. He’s always doing things for everyone. And he’s been on our board. He’s the longest serving board member we have. And, uh, Danny, Danny helps us make these connections too. So to not say his name, I think would be a major oversight. Um, but yeah, the comedians, um, that was such a wonderful, frankly, boost. It was a boost financially, it was a boost. Morally, it was, it, you know, it made us morale rather morale wise, morally, I don’t think so. But morale, yes. Sure. And I think that the thing about the comedians, uh, and Pete Davidson, I think everyone knows that his father Scott was, was a firefighter, uh, in Brooklyn Heights with one 18.

He was in the truck Yep. And killed on nine 11. Uh, Pete brought, you know, I remember Pete when he was a kid, he doesn’t remember me, I’m sure, but I remember him in the kitchen, uh, you know, once or twice. Um, but I didn’t engage with him. He, he was a child who lost his father. There were other family members there. Sure. There was a lot going on. And I don’t remember him really hanging out either. But I remember feeling, you know, this is a young kid and his life is just upside down now. And, and like many others, you know, there was a firehouse. And not to diminish what, what one 18 lost, uh, that, that comp that company and yeah. 2 0 5, the house. But, you know, hazmat, hazmat lost 19 men. Wow. Uh, you know, there’s 43 children without their fathers in, in, uh, blink of an eye. So the, the, the, it reverberates, you know, to this day, and, and I’m so lucky to still be in touch with a lot of those kids who are now adults. Right. Who are now, some of them are doctors. I mean, they’re grown up.

Drew Slocum: (34:24):

That’s great to see.

Nancy Carbone: (34:25):

But the comedians, you know, it, it, it’s, I get such a kick out of their comedy <laugh> and some of them, some of them more than others, and, uh, you know, some of them, some of them I feel like I’ve known my whole life, you know, because they’re particularly funny. Bill Burr, bill Burr could have been in my high school <laugh>. He’s just, he’s one of those guys. He could be at a kitchen table. He fit so perfectly into that movie, you know, king of Staten Island because, uh, I, that, that’s a firefighter, you know Sure. At the table. Yeah. So for the comedy piece of it, and for Judd to be so insightful, so let to know to sit back and let them be who they are. Right. And, um, you know, people that aren’t in that tribe don’t get the language. And these guys all got the language and they riffed off of it. And even though Bill Burr was not a firefighter, he got the language quickly Sure. And fell right in. And it was, it was really brilliant and, and a lot of fun to watch.

Drew Slocum: (35:20):

Yeah. I, I, I, I finally, you know, sat down and watched it pretty detailed last week, and, uh, you know, it came out where it, would it, it come out in the summertime or in the springtime where you didn’t really have, uh, there wasn’t really a release of it, but I’ve talked to so many people that have seen it. It’s, it’s, it’s probably, they’re probably getting a lot of access just of, of just, uh, people interested in it. And it, it’s, it’s pretty, you know, I’m, I was never involved in, in firefighting or anything, but, um, it’s pretty, uh, down to earth and, and what families are going through and what firefighters are going through. It’s, it was, uh, it’s, it’s, it’s funny as I’ll get out, but it, there’s a lot of, um, you know, sincere information about the life of firefighters and their families. So

Nancy Carbone: (36:09):

Yeah. It, it, it’s touching and, and you know, there are a few things there. There’s some stories that, that John’s told that are true stories, of course, about Pete’s dad. And, um, and he brings it to life, you know, his story because it’s firsthand and said with a lot of love. Yeah. And, um, you know,

Drew Slocum: (36:28):

So some of those stories are true from the movie.

Nancy Carbone: (36:32):

I’m not gonna comment on that. <laugh>. Yes. Yes.

Drew Slocum: (36:35):


Nancy Carbone: (36:36):

Uh, John did an interview, and I apologize, I don’t know the name of the fellow who interviewed him, but John Sorrentino is, is, um, he’s the person who really, he was the first person I met in the firehouse. Um, I have five friends who were firefighters on nine 11. They all survived. Um, my mom’s uncle prior to my birth, uh, was killed line of duty. So, so I always understood this to be a very dangerous job, uh, from being a young child. I remember the stories that they would tell, but John, uh, is the one that met me at the, on the apparatus floor and said, we need bunting. We need, um, bugler for our funerals. And this is, you know, they, they didn’t even know. People were still thinking their members, their family members would be found. Uh, and then he said, we need counseling.

And this was just a couple days after nine 11. So it was pretty amazing to me that he had such insight and he and I became very close brother and sister, and still are, um, I give this, and he’s very humble, but he held it all together and, uh, he was able to have the foresight for years down the road, you know, that, that he knew that the members would need help and he knew just how to do it. Sure. I was in the dark and I really did follow his and Tony Katana’s lead. Yeah. And Tony Ka. Tony Kat, you know, he the best,

Drew Slocum: (37:56):

The best. Yeah. He was the best. I I got to know him a little bit. Yeah. Some of our talks and everything. Um, no, I, I really do appreciate what you guys, uh, what you, you and the girls are doing and, and, and, and kind of the whole, um, you know, you’ve had to pivot with what’s going on, which is, it’s amazing to see that, um, you know, to see, you see a need and hey, let’s, let’s transition, or Hey, let’s stop this for a little bit. There’s a more focus, more on, on what’s happening with emergency responders and all that. So it’s, um, yeah, it’s good. And hopefully, I, I get your message out with this podcast a little bit. You know, I, we have, we a a following throughout the US and, uh, you know, wanted to kind of, kind of highlight who you were and you know, what you’re doing in New York City and, and, and maybe other, maybe other cities can, can kind of, um, yeah, there’s a lot of, a lot of areas of need, not just New York City, but I think your vision may be in inspiring some other people too.

Nancy Carbone: (38:58):

So. Well, you know, I, I’ll tell you, we’ve been asked many, many times if we can start a friends of firefighters in different areas, and I won’t name them, um, because they spoke to me and it’s confidential, but it breaks my heart that we’re not able to say, okay, we’ll be there, you know, in two months and we’re gonna set up and this and that. However, with Covid now, now the game’s changed. Sure. Uh, I am not prepared, nor will I, um, jeopardize friends of firefighters here in New York City by spreading ourselves too thin. Right. However, fire departments are, are, um, able to apply for grants specific to their departments on an annual basis, uh, through fema. And if they wanted our services, we could do it now remotely if they were to apply for the grant, because, um, I can’t take the resources away from New York City firefighters.

Um, but if that money were there, absolutely we would expect to meet the need. And it doesn’t matter where they are, because firefighting, I don’t care if you’re in the smallest town in Alaska, you have a responsibility. Yep. And you’re, and you’re doing a job that’s dangerous. And just like the firefighters in the small towns of California, you know, they’re, they’re losing their lives. Oh yeah. Because of these fires, because of earthquakes, because of everything that’s happening. Mother nature’s throwing it all right at us, but very dangerous, very, very dangerous job. So yeah, we, we wanna be able to be there, uh, for them. So there are ways to make that happen. Uh, we can’t write the grants and we can’t, uh, grant the money, but we certainly can make something happen for those departments who are fortunate enough to be heard.

Drew Slocum: (40:45):

That’s, yeah. That’s, that’s amazing. Um, I guess let’s let, I guess let’s transition. Where do we find you? Is there a good outreach? I know you have all the social media channels and all that

Nancy Carbone: (40:56):

We do. We have social media channels, and right now our website is under construction, so I know people are gonna go, oh, this is it. And, you know, no, that’s not it. So just sit tight. It’ll be another week or so, and then the real one will be up. But right now, the information that is pertinent and important, you know, is, is up. Uh, we are@friendsoffirefighters.org. Uh, we are on Instagram. We are on Twitter. Please, please tell me, I know that I don’t know on this stuff because I’m not on Twitter <laugh>. Um, and I, and I, you know, I, I wish I could be.

Drew Slocum: (41:26):

So yeah, here, I, I got it all lined up. The, uh, it’s at Friends of ff on Twitter. Yes. Uh,

Nancy Carbone: (41:34):


Drew Slocum: (41:34):

You. The Instagram handle is, um, I, I know I find you on Instagram cuz there’s, there’s some good stuff on Instagram. All the, all the, uh, yeah, you guys just had the pig roast. That was pretty cool.

Nancy Carbone: (41:45):

That was awesome. That was Jimmy Carone not related to me. Jimmy Carone is a sweetheart and he does the pig island every year. And, uh, we are his charity of choice. So we are very lucky to, and, and the best, oh my gosh, the, the, the, you have to be a meat lover to go to one of his events and I am. So

Drew Slocum: (42:03):

Yeah. I think it’s just at Friends and Firefighters that on, on Instagram. That’s, that’s cool. You got some good, uh, all your events on there and everything, so

Nancy Carbone: (42:10):

Yeah. Yeah, we do. And so, uh, you know, again, we, we, we need the support and with that support, we’re able to reach those who don’t hesitate to jump into a situation to pull us out of danger. So this is really an honor to do my job. Uh, when people say nice things, it’s nice, but I get a little embarrassed because, you know, I’m not on that level. I, I’m just a conduit to help. Uh, what they do is, is that deserves the attention.

Drew Slocum: (42:41):

Yeah, no, I, I appreciate everything you do. I know I brought it up earlier and I was gonna sur I was maybe gonna surprise you, but, uh, you know, I I I run a software company dealing with fire prevention and, um, we’re gonna do something. Fire Prevention Week is the week of October 4th through the 11th. So I’d always, you know, with my, with my wife, uh, my wife’s cause marketing summit last week, I was like, wow, this is, mm-hmm. This is a great time to, to do this. So, um, yeah, we’re gonna, we’re gonna inspect point’s, gonna donate a hundred dollars for every, every, every demo request in, in Fire Prevention Week and, um, and maybe even keep it going after that cuz it’s, uh, it’s, it’s a great cause and I, I see a lot of, uh, you know, similarities between us, so

Nancy Carbone: (43:30):

Yeah. And thank you. And thank you for that. That’s, that’s very generous and very, very much appreciated.

Drew Slocum: (43:36):

Yeah. Appreciate it. Um, well I’ll, um, anything else you wanna get out to the, the podcast community before, before, uh, we get outta here?

Nancy Carbone: (43:47):

If anybody who is a firefighter is listening, I would just wanna say thank you. And if a firefighter’s partner, spouse, children, thank you because, um, you do a very dangerous job and those at home that wait for you, um, my heart goes out to them too. So thank you. That’s what I wanna say.

Drew Slocum: (44:05):

Great. Yes. Thanks tha and thanks Nancy for, for taking the time today and Sure. Um, I’ll put it, I’ll put this out, um, you know, during the week or during Fire Prevention Week and we’ll, uh, I’ll talk to you soon.

Nancy Carbone: (44:18):

Okay. Thanks so much Drew. You’ll be, well give my regard. She did a great job with that, with that summit.

Drew Slocum: (44:23):

Yes. Yeah, so thank you. It was great.

Nancy Carbone: (44:25):

Yeah, <laugh>, it was great. So thanks again. I appreciate it. Take care.

Drew Slocum: (44:30):

I want to thank Nancy Cardone again from Friends of Firefighters for joining today’s podcast. You know, fire Prevention Week is important to all of us in the industry and I just wanted to highlight a great nonprofit doing good deeds, you know, in New York City and beyond. Please check them out@friendsoffirefighters.org online on all the social media channels. Feel free to donate and, uh, fire Prevention Week book a demo. I want to, I wanna get the demos up obviously for, for Friends of firefighters and, um, giving back to them. So, uh, I appreciate all the listeners and uh, have a great Fire Prevention Week. Take care.