Fire Dept. Captain DeSimone carries on family tradition of serving and saving

Pelham Fire Department Captain Phil DeSimone (right) and Chief Robert Benkwitt III hold the helmet insignia for DeSimone’s new rank.

Pelham Fire Department Captain Phil DeSimone’s father was a firefighter for 20 years in the Bronx. Growing up around the fire service, the younger DeSimone knew from a young age he wanted to be a firefighter.

He took the civil service exam and was hired by the Pelham Fire Department in 2010 and attended the 15-week fire academy program in Utica. 

“I knew that I wanted to give back to the community and to continue giving back through my career,” said DeSimone.

On March 8, DeSimone was promoted to captain from lieutenant, making the 12-year veteran the second in command of the PFD. He is only the second captain in the history of the department. Chief Robert Benkwitt III was the first prior to his promotion to head the department.

Gaining promotion meant more responsibilities. DeSimone works alongside the chief and is second in charge of the four lieutenants and the firemen under them. He said he coordinates with the chief to get daily tasks accomplished, such as any training, scheduling of anything unusual and responding to emergencies. 

DeSimone is one of the department’s in-house bailout instructors, working with firefighters to certify them on the proper use of their personal safety systems.

DeSimone graduated from Pelham Memorial High School in 2006 and attended Concordia College in Bronxville, where he received a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2010.

“Shortly after college, I was called to the job at the Pelham Fire Department and knew that it was exactly what I wanted to do,” said DeSimone.

DeSimone was born and raised in Pelham. He also attended Hutchinson Elementary School and Pelham Middle School.