By John Purcell
Amsterdam Fire Department Chief Michael Whitty said the late Michael DePasquale was, “a firefighter through and through.” DePasquale, 53, a lifelong Amsterdam resident, died unexpectedly on October 20, 2016, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Amsterdam reportedly surrounded by his family and fellow firefighters. DePasquale had served on the Amsterdam Fire Department for more than 31 years and rose through the ranks to become Battalion Chief. DePasquale is survived by his wife, Christine, and two daughters, Kara and Megan, along with his two brothers, Richard and James.
Whitty described DePasquale as a dedicated firefighter who had earned the, “respect of his men.” He said DePasquale, “bought a lot of experience to the table,” along with a level headed approach to situations. “For me, as one of my command staff, I respected his opinion,” Whitty said. “Whatever Mike was tasked with I knew I could count on it getting done, and getting it done properly and safely. He was that kind of officer and he’s going to be greatly missed.”
DePasquale joined the city fire department in April 1985 and was promoted to driver in February 1991. He was promoted to Lieutenant in May 2002 before being promoted to Battalion Chief on June 28, 2010. He was selected as Amsterdam Fireman of the Year in 1991. Whitty said DePasquale was responsible for the fire department’s emergency medical service operations, which is the biggest component of the fire service. “Mike ran that and he did a good job doing it,” he said. He served as president of the Amsterdam Professional Firefighters Union from 1992 to 2002. He also served as a driver for the Montgomery County Veterans Service Agency.
Amsterdam Mayor Michael Villa said hearing of DePasquale’s unexpected death was shocking. Villa said DePasquale’s passing was a tragic situation for the fire department as well as his family. “It’s a very sad day for Amsterdam,” Villa said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.” Villa said when he was hired in 1985 as a police officer, DePasquale was a part-time police officer. Villa said they both had taken the police and fire department exam and passed each test. While they each went to different departments, Villa said their paths would regularly cross while on the job.
“I remember the brief time we worked together before he left the police department to go to the fire department,” Villa said. “Our careers co-existed — I’d see him at calls.” Villa said DePasquale was a great, fun loving person, who was a dedicated firefighter who loved the city of Amsterdam. Whitty said the death of DePasquale was shocking for the entire fire department, but he was confident firefighters would help each other cope and continue to suit up when the alarm sounds. “You hear people say the fire service is a brotherhood and at times like this it truly is,” Whitty said. “Mike would be the first one to say we still got a job to do. When the bell rings, we’re going to get on the trucks and we’re going to go out the door — that’s what we do.”
Funeral services were held on October 25. Memorial contributions may be made to the Homeward Bound Dog Rescue of NY, PO Box 5782, Albany, NY 12205; or to the Amsterdam Fire Department Scholarship Fund, Public Safety Building, 1 Guy Park Ave., Ext. Amsterdam, NY 12010.