Pete Hayden, a career veteran, was named Chief of the Fire Department of New York City by Mayor Bloomberg in July.
Hayden, who has been with the FDNY for 35 years, was one of the principal officers in charge on September 11. An early decision he made to move the command post out of the North Tower saved many lives.
Hayden, whose parents are from Mayo and Kildare, grew up in Rockaway, Queens. He is married to Rita and they have five grown children: Rita, Katherine, Peter, Patrick, and Mary. Peter and Patrick are also in the FDNY, as is Hayden’s brother John and his son-in-law, John.
Hayden has visited Ireland many times. In 2003, he was an honored guest at the opening ceremony for the Irish Memorial to those who died in 9 / 11. Dedicated to Irish-born Sean Tallon, a fallen New York City firefighter who had come from the surrounding area, the memorial in Dunadee, County Kildare, consists of two ten-foot Twin Towers of black granite inscribed with the names of those who were lost, and a grove of 400 oak trees, planted in memory of the firefighters and police officers lost on 9 / 11. Benches surrounding the memorial bear plaques with the names of those killed on the airliners used by the terrorists on that fateful day, and the surface concrete surrounding the towers is emblazoned with the New York City Police and FDNY insignias.
Speaking from his new office at FDNY headquarters, while still in the process of moving in, Hayden called the Irish memorial both striking and appropriate. He recalled the dedication as being “very emotional,” saying, “Certainly you are always overwhelmed by the support, spiritual, emotional and financial, we received. It’s especially important to me to see the response of Irish people; because I’m Irish-American and so many who were lost were Irish-American.” ♦