Former NY fire chief dies of 9/11-related illness

Patrick Mataraza, an FDNY lieutenant, president of PBFD and friend of the family, said the word resilient best described Richard "Ricky" Tanagretta

By Rachel Ettlinger
The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y.

PINE BUSH, N.Y. — Richard "Ricky" Tanagretta's resilience was an inspiration to everyone, the Pine Bush Fire Department stated Wednesday evening, hours after the beloved 65-year-old firefighter passed away of a 9/11-related illness.

As a 26-year member of the New York City Fire Department and a 27-year member of the PBFD, Tanagretta took his decades of knowledge and instilled his experience in budding firefighters as a former Orange County/New York State fire instructor. He was also past chief of the Pine Bush Fire Department and a county deputy fire coordinator.


It is with heavy hearts and great sadness to announce the passing of Past Chief Richard Tanagretta due to 9/11 related...

Posted by Pine Bush Fire Department on Tuesday, September 24, 2019

"His life has been nothing but an example of resilience, strength, and devotion," Pine Bush Fire Chief Michael Mataraza wrote in a statement. "We are humbled, privileged and honored to have served with him. We are even more honored to consider him our friend."

Patrick Mataraza, an FDNY lieutenant, president of PBFD and friend of the Tanagretta family, said the word resilient best described the man who was admired by the community.

After being diagnosed in 2012 with an illness the Tanagretta family preferred not to publicize, Tanagretta went into remission, only to be in a serious motorcycle accident that garnered him and his family more than $50,000 in donations and earned him the Helen Hayes MacArthur Rose Award for those who made a difference to hospital patients and staff.

"He came back from that, only to get cancer back," Patrick Mataraza said by phone Wednesday night.

Tanagretta is survived by his wife, Doreen; his four children, Anthony, Michael, Lisa and Christina; and many beloved grandchildren.

Details regarding services for Tanagretta, a Pine Bush resident since 1991, will be announced as they are finalized.

"His generosity and strength was known outside of the firehouse as well as in the Pine Bush community," Michael Mataraza stated. "Ricky's teaching has not only had an effect on us but on many firefighters at a County, State and National level. There are many firefighters that consider Ricky a mentor; his influence will carry on throughout the fire service."


©2019 The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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