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Guide to the Ronald R. Spadafora Papers
1911-2018 (bulk, 1970s-2010s)
 MS 3134

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on August 25, 2020
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents

The collection includes material created or compiled by Ronald Spadafora over the course of his career as a professional firefighter and officer with the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), and as an author and teacher contributing to the development of the firefighting profession. The collection also holds material related to Spadafora's personal life, interests, and education.

The bulk of the collection holds material related to a wide range of issues concerning fires and firefighting. Much of this material relates generally to such matters as fire prevention, fire suppression, arson/arson investigations, firefighting in different scenarios, fire science, chemicals, environmental ("green") considerations, types of building structures, potential terrorism and weapons (nuclear, biological, etc.), incident management and command, emergency response and communications, and the like. Much also relates more specifically to the various firefighting methods, training methods, and other policies and procedures employed by the FDNY, particularly from the 1970s to 2010s. Even more specifically, the collection includes documentation on the FDNY's strategies for dealing with fires in the city's infrastructure and for certain events (e.g., the New Year's Eve gatherings in Times Square, the Republican National Convention in 2004).

Standing out in this material is the extensive amount concerning the human remains recovery projects (2001-02 and 2006-07) at Ground Zero, the site of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, on the World Trade Center. The collection holds health and safety training programs, planning documents, project status reports, incident reviews, dispatch recordings, and more on the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath. Smaller, but still rich, amounts of material can be found regarding FDNY's deployment to New Orleans to assist with the recovery from Hurricane Katrina; the Happy Land social club fire of 1990 (and other fires in similar settings); the establishment of a "Fire Department High School" at Fort Totten to increase diversity in the firefighter ranks; the investigation into the deaths of firefighters Joseph Graffagnino and Robert Beddia at the Deutsche Bank Building at 130 Liberty Street in 2007; and more.

Document formats include tearsheets, magazines, books, print-outs from the internet, photocopies of articles and other texts, official reports and investigations, government (federal, state, city) publications, print-outs of Powerpoint slide presentations, vendor product marketing material, digital media (CDs/DVDs) with photographs and moving images, and more. The overall context is as varied as the material: Spadafora's own ongoing professional development and his varied roles as firefighter, officer, author, advisor/consultant, university adjunct professor, in-service instructor, panelist, and more. Consequently, the materials are found, roughly speaking, in thematic ways that supported Spadafora's particular needs, that is, by book/book chapters, or by courses/class sessions, or by published articles, or by presentations, or by task forces, and so forth, rather than by format, chronology, series/source of document, etc.

The collection is not processed, that is, it largely remains as boxed when received by N-YHS from the donor. The container list in this finding aid documents the contents of each box as determined on a best-efforts basis during a survey of the boxes by an N-YHS archivist. The archivist then very roughly categorized the contents into the following five types of material, which were used in the container list titles to assist with navigation:

World Trade Center. This category includes any material referring to the attacks of 9/11, Ground Zero, the human remains recovery projects, the general site itself, or matters clearly linked to 9/11, such as the later Deutsche Bank building fire.

Education. This includes any material that appears to have been explicitly used for training firefighters, officers, and others. Includes training manuals, practice exams, student and instructor guides, university or in-service course content, syllabuses, reading material found in the collection clearly related to coursework, FDNY training bulletins, etc. The collection includes a set of binders compiled by Spadafora from about 1995-2015 with Fire Tech branded training materials (and other related material inserted); these binders are numbered from 1 to 48 but are found scattered out of sequence in eight various boxes. These boxes are: 9839 (binder #5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14), 9840 (#3, 4, 7, 8, 11, 42, 46), 9843 (#2, 19, 20, 23, 24, 27, 28), 9844 (#1, 17, 18, 21, 22, 25, 26), 9855 (15, 16, 29, 30, 35, 38), 9856 (#14, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37), 7432 (# 39, 40, 45, 48), and 7433 (#43, 43, 47).

Policies & Procedures. This includes any material from FDNY that constitutes some form of official process, such as firefighting procedures, building inspection programs, operational reference manuals, circulars, memos, notices, announcements, organization charts, plans, strategies, and the like.

Specifics. Of course the bulk of the content refers to something specific, and the box level notes attempt to identify this content. The category "Specifics" was used to identify material of some notable substantive amount that relates to particular task forces, investigations, projects, incidents, etc. that Spadafora was involved with or that is otherwise especially well-represented in the collection. Material on Hurricane Katrina, the building code revision task force, Fire Department High School, Spadafora's training consultancies in South Africa, and other such matters were categorized under this heading.

Reference. This category includes material of a general information nature that could not be immediately related during the archivist's survey to a particular context, such as background for a course taught or book written by Spadafora. Examples include issues of the firefighting magazine, WNYF; FDNY general publications, such as annual reports, Medal Day programs, and Management Appraisal, Reviews & Compliance (MARC) reports; books and other print and digital formats on firefighting and fire science topics, histories, math, building design and construction, management; government publications, such as labor laws, building codes, as well as guidance statements on matters related to firefighting, emergency responses, etc. One specific topic under this category are the files related to Spadafora's "green book," which were identified to the extent possible in the container list.

Personal. This category includes material related to Spadafora more or less personally. Examples from his younger days include high school yearbooks, track medals, and martial arts belts. Examples of later materials include certificates of achievements, paystubs, promotion notices, lanyards from conferences, records of his final illness, and more.

To be clear, the above categories were assigned subjectively by the archivist on quick surveys of box content. Most boxes hold a mix of materials that could fit under various categories, and there is often a thin line between, for example, what might be considered an educational/training document rather than a policy/procedure document. Accordingly, patrons should view the container labels/categories as useful for broad navigation but be cautious in relying too heavily on them.


The use of acronyms is rampant in the collection. Following is a list of those observed by the archivist as commonly found in the collection, and used to some extent in this finding aid.

ABC: All Boro Circular (FDNY)
AFID: Apparatus Field Inspection Duty
ARCS: Auxiliary Radio Communications System (NYC)
AUC / AUM: All Unit Circular / All Unit Memo (FDNY)
BFP: Bureau of Fire Prevention (FDNY)
CAFS: Compressed Air Foam Systems
CFR: Certified First Responder
CIMS: Citywide Incident Management System
CTS: Chauffeur [fire vehicle driver] Training School
CWD: City Wide Drills
DAC: Deputy Assistant Chief
DC: Deputy Chief
DDC: New York City Department of Design & Construction
DoL: Department of Labor
EAP: Emergency Action Plan
EMS / EMT: Emergency Medical System / Emergency Medical Technician
EPA: Environmental Protection Agency
ESS: Energy Storage Systems
FDHS: Fire Department High School
FDNY: Fire Department of New York City
FEMA: Federal Emergency Management Agency
FF / FFP: Firefighting / Firefighting Procedures
Fire Tech: Modern Fire Technology, Inc.'s series of training memos
FLSTP: First Line Supervisors Training Program
FOMI: Fire (or FDNY) Officers Management Institute
FP: Fire Protection
FS: Fire Science
IAP: Incident Action Plans
IAQ: Indoor Air Quality
ICS / IMS / IMT: Incident Command System / Incident Management System / Incident Management Team
LEED: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (certification program)
LMDC: Lower Manhattan Development Corporation
LNG: Liquid / Liquified Natural Gas
MARC: Management Appraisal, Reviews and Comparisons (FDNY)
MCNY: Metropolitan College of New York
NFPA: National Fire Protection Association
NIST: National Institute of Standards and Technology
NOV: Notice of Violation (FDNY) (also see SFO)
NWCG: National Wildfire Coordinating Group
OCME: Office of Chief Medical Examiner (NYC)
OMI: Officers Management Institute (also referred to as FOMI, for Fire/FDNY Officers)
OSHA: Occupational Safety and Health Administration
PPE: Personal Protective Equipment (also see SCBA) PHR: Potential Human Remains (specifically in context of WTC recovery)
Proby: Firefighter still in probationary period
PV: Photovoltaics (batteries, etc.)
RBIS: Risk Building Inspection System (FDNY)
SCBA: Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (also see PPE)
SCTF: Social Club Task Force
SFO: Standard Form of Orders (also see NOV)
TB: Training Bulletin
WTC: World Trade Center / Ground Zero


Physical collection: The collection has not been processed physically and so remains largely as boxed by the donor and by N-YHS staff in November 2018. Generally, though not always, there is a workable level of consistency of subject matter within a particular box, however there is as yet no overall seamless physical sequencing across boxes. Boxes are numbered only with barcodes assigned more or less randomly. Although there can in some instances be some relationship in the content of boxes with sequential barcodes, this is not true in most cases or for the collection as a whole.

Finding aid container list: The container list is roughly arranged by the following categories of content (see the Scope note for an explanation of the categories as roughly assigned by the archivist to each box):

* World Trade Center
* Education
* Policies & Procedures
* Personal
* Reference
* Specifics

The finding aid first presents those boxes that include material that seems to fit almost exclusively into one of these categories. This totals about 77 of the 209 containers. Following these are boxes that contain material that seem to have a combination of these categories. The container list notes these various categories in the title (e.g., "Specifics (Roosevelt Island tram). Policies & Procedures. Reference"), noting them roughly in the order of their prominence in that box. The container list for these mixed boxes is ordered roughly alphabetically by lead category (e.g. boxes of "Education. Reference" are found prior to those of "Reference. Personal."). Because of this sprawling structure and weighting of box content, multiple iterations of content labeling are found throughout. For example, there can be an "Education. Personal" box as well as, later in the container list, a "Personal. Education" box, reflecting the relative extent of each category in the box. As another example, although boxes with major World Trade Center content are concentrated at the top of the container list, boxes with just incidental WTC content can be found in other parts of the finding aid. Consequently patrons are advised to use the labeling for broad navigation only, and to use keyword searching within the finding aid to identify all instances of material of potential usefulness.