Former Firefighter Still Honors Fallen Friends and Comes to the Rescue of Neighbors

Published on September 8, 2016

For 40 years, WorkSaver® magazine has told the stories of Bobcat® equipment owners and operators. Thousands of people have been featured in the magazine, describing how Bobcat machines helped them work more efficiently and provided a path for new career opportunities or business ownership. We caught up with a few Bobcat equipment owners, including Steven Ruggirello, to see what’s happened since they were in the magazine.

Steven Ruggirello keeps his own memorial outside his home in Staten Island to honor those who gave their lives on 9/11. The Bobcat 843 skid-steer loader that Steven Ruggirello took to the site of the World Trade Center the day after 9/11, like him, is retired. However, the former New York City firefighter is still a shining example of what it means to be a good neighbor. Just like he was in 2001 when he heard they needed small construction machines at ground zero.

Ruggirello, who had ended his career with the fire department just a month earlier, took his Bobcat skid-steer loader across New York Harbor on the Staten Island Ferry, used his fire department ID to gain access to ground zero and spent a few days recovering bodies of victims, cleaning streets, pushing vehicles off to the side and moving debris for the Federal Aviation Administration.

He spent the rest of September attending funerals for many of the 343 New York firefighters who died on 9/11. Then he built a memorial in his yard dedicated to his deceased fire department friends.

Today at the corner of Heberton and Castleton avenues in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Staten Island, New York, 343 granite cobblestones lay in tribute to the fallen firefighters. People in the community donated materials and labor to help build the 9/11 memorial.

Ruggirello has since replaced his 843 with a Bobcat 763 skid-steer loader and a 331 compact excavator that he uses to collect materials from construction and demolition sites around his neighborhood. If he finds an item that fits the tone of the memorial, he adds it in.

“I don’t really use the Bobcat machines to make money,” Ruggirello says. “I help organizations load and unload materials, assist them in small construction projects and clean up debris and junk around the community. As a homeowner, that’s how I justify having this equipment. Just being a good neighbor.”

A few months each year he takes the loader and excavator to Nova Scotia where he builds roads and gardens and helps with other upgrades on the five acres his mother owns.

“I tried renting other brands of equipment up there, but after experiencing reliability problems, I decided to bring my own machines,” he says. “My Bobcat loader and excavator hold up much better.”

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