Spotlight on: Stephen Ruzow

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Spotlight on: Stephen Ruzow, Chair, FDNY Foundation Board of Directors

Steve Ruzow can’t remember a time when he wasn’t passionate about the work of the New York City Fire Department.

Born in Brooklyn, the self-proclaimed “fire buff” grew up in Kew Gardens and it was there that his love of the FDNY was born.

“I used to chase fire engines,” he says.

Ruzow attended Forest Hills High School and Hofstra University and went on to hold senior executive positions at major apparel companies such as Donna Karan International, Calvin Klein and Kellwood.

He joined the Board of Directors of the FDNY Foundation — then called the FDNY Fire Safety Education Fund — in 2000 and has served as Chairman of the Board since 2006.

Asked why he feels so passionately about his work with the Foundation, Ruzow’s answer is simple. “I just love the department,” he says. “I think they’re doing such great things.”

Ruzow says he is especially proud of the Foundation’s ability to fund fire safety education programs. He says the FDNY trains its members “more and better” than any fire department in the world, but says, it’s the fire safety education initiatives that prevent fires.

“If we can prevent fires, we are keeping civilians safe and we are keeping our firefighters safe.”

Ruzow was appointed Honorary Deputy Fire Chief in December 1983, Honorary Deputy Fire Commissioner in February 1999 and in November 2000, was named Honorary Fire Commissioner by then Commissioner Thomas Von Essen for his years of dedication to the department; but, his service was never about recognition.

“There’s only one goal: to support the fire department. It’s about funding, yes. But it’s about funding to save lives.”

As Ruzow looks to the future of the Foundation, he says he hopes for even greater fundraising participation from the members of the Board of Directors, because, he says, more resources mean more saved lives.

“What do we want? We want zero fire fatalities. Every life we can save is precious.”

For more information on the FDNY Foundation Board of Directors, click here.