It took quite a few years, but Rockville Centre resident Connor Geraghty was finally able to follow in his father’s footsteps last month when he graduated from the New York City Fire Academy.
“I’m a fourth-generation New York City firefighter,” Geraghty said. “My great-grandfather, my grandfather and father all did the job. I grew up in a firehouse.”
Geraghty’s father, Edward, was a chief of Battalion 9 in Manhattan. He died in the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
“After 9/11, it was a big thing for me: Do I still want to do this?” Geraghty said. “I knew I always wanted to, but in the back of my mind there was that scare of knowing you might not come home. And I experienced that first-hand with my father.
“But after a couple of years, I grew up and matured...” he added. “It’s a calling, and I knew from the get-go that it’s the only thing I want to do and the only thing I can do.”
Geraghty took the entrance exam for the academy for the first time in 2007. He scored well, and was scheduled to be hired in 2009. But in 2007 the federal government filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging that it was discriminating in its hiring of new firefighters. In 2009, a judge ruled that the city needed to start accepting more minority firefighters into the academy.
Time passed, and Geraghty didn’t receive notice from the FDNY. Eventually his test expired, and he had to retake it in the spring of 2012. Again, he scored well enough to qualify for the academy.
Last January, Geraghty’s cousin Chris Geraghty, also a Rockville Centre resident with life-long dreams of joining the FDNY, was admitted to the academy. “We grew up together, and our fathers were both firemen in the city,” Geraghty said. “We were both very competitive in nature, and we both wanted to be valedictorian in our classes. And he was valedictorian in his class.”
Later in the year, Geraghty was admitted to the academy, which puts prospective firefighters through a grueling 18 weeks of training on Randall’s Island. Most days, Geraghty said, the students were in at 6 a.m. and left at 6 p.m. “It’s hands-on training and classroom training, as well as a lot of physical fitness,” he said. “It’s nonstop.”
Geraghty worked hard, motivated by his cousin’s success at the academy. “It was my dream forever to finish at the top,” he said. “But now that my cousin did it, I had a little more pressure.”
But the hard work paid off. On Dec. 5, Geraghty graduated at the top of a class of 242, which was also the most diverse class of new recruits in FDNY history. Now he works for Ladder 175 in Brooklyn.
“Seeing my father go to work with a smile on his face was always a pretty cool thing,” Geraghty said. “I knew from a very young age that it was what I wanted to do. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”