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Firefighter, 9/11 Responder, and Prolific Author Dennis Smith Passes Away at 81

February 3, 2022 | Michael Barasch

Dennis Smith, a longtime New York City firefighter and bestselling author, passed away on January 21. He was 81.

Raised on the East Side of Manhattan, Smith joined the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) in 1963, when he was assigned to Engine Company 292 in Queens.

In 1966, Smith was transferred to the busiest firehouse in the city, Engine Company 82 in the South Bronx. 

His experiences there inspired a 1972 debut, “Report from Engine Co. 82,” which brilliantly documented the challenges confronting firefighters and honored the enormous contributions of New York City’s Bravest.

Smith dedicated the book to the more than 3,500 firefighters who died in the line of duty in the decade since he had joined the FDNY. 

“Report from Engine Co. 82” sold three million copies and, as the New York Times recently noted, “inspired countless men and women to become firefighters.”

He retired from the FDNY in 1981, but returned as a volunteer after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11, working for months on search-and-rescue and recovery efforts.

Years later, Smith developed cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as a result of his exposure to Ground Zero toxins.

In “Report from Ground Zero,” Smith recollected the contributions of first responders on and after 9/11, honoring their courage in the midst of tragedy.  

Smith wrote 16 books in total, including the children’s books “Brassy the Fire Engine” and “The Little Fire Engine That Saved the City.”

He was also the founding chairman of the New York City Fire Museum and the founder of Firehouse magazine.

If, like Dennis Smith, you were in Lower Manhattan on or after 9/11, you have a higher risk of developing 68 types of cancer and many respiratory illnesses. 

Protect yourself by registering with the World Trade Center Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund – even if you are currently healthy.

Call 212-385-8000 or visit today.

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