FDNY top spokesman Frank Gribbon, whose bespectacled presence has been a fixture at department tragedies and celebrations for the past 30 years, will retire next month, the Daily News has learned.
Gribbon served under four fire commissioners during this three decades on the job — a career that started in a city firehouse and will officially end in a few weeks at the top spot in the FDNY’s press office.
Along the way Gribbon, 59, alternately charmed and sometimes infuriated the city’s press corps as the Fire Department’s deputy commissioner of public information. He was the FDNY’s chief media voice during some of its darkest days, and always one of its biggest boosters.
Gribbon put in his papers over the summer, FDNY officials said. He has already stepped away from many of the day-to-day duties of the demanding job.
“We are feeling Frank’s absence, after he served the department in an important role for many years, and through some extraordinary times," FDNY Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro told The News.
Nigro credited Gribbon for “shaping the FDNY’s voice” and serving “the city with skill and dignity through three mayoral administrations.”
“I wish him and his family many happy and healthy years ahead,” Nigro said.
Gribbon, who graduated from Brooklyn College with a degree in English, worked as a reporter and editor for six years at newspapers in Manhattan and Queens before joining the FDNY. He would sometimes regale reporters with tales of his Brooklyn childhood, growing up one of many kids in a politically active and close-knit Irish-American family.
He served as a firefighter and fire officer with the FDNY for a decade before joining the department’s press office in 1997. He left less than two years later, returning in 2000 as the chief spokesman for the biggest fire department in the nation.
Thomas Von Essen was Fire Commissioner at the time and stayed through the end of 2001 as the FDNY dealt with the staggering grief of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, during which 343 members of the department were killed.
Gribbon served under each of Von Essens’ successors: Nicholas Scoppetta, Salvatore Cassano and Nigro.