A longtime White Plains firefighter who was on the verge of retiring from the department later this year lost his battle to COVID-19 late last week.
Deputy Chief Edward Ciocca, a nearly 35-year veteran and a third-generation firefighter of the department, died on May 1 due to complications from the disease at White Plains Hospital, said the city’s Public Safety Commissioner David Chong. Ciocca’s obituary that was posted on the McMahon, Lyon & Hartnett Funeral Home website said he was 62 years old.
“My heart as a commissioner is broken and the department’s heart is broken,” said Chong, who counted Ciocca as a friend. “We lost him way too soon. He was going to retire. He was talking about retiring after this summer, and it’s just an awful tragedy.”
Ciocca was a lifelong White Plains resident and followed his father and grandfather into the department, Chong said. He worked his way up to deputy chief, which put him in charge of the entire shift and required him to visit all of the city’s five firehouses, he said.
Earlier in the coronavirus crisis Ciocca had been initially hospitalized, but was released and given oxygen to use at home. He had to return to the hospital where he died last Friday.
Chong said that when Ciocca was in charge of a fire scene, it was a huge relief to him as commissioner because he knew the situation would be handled properly.
“He had proven that to me for over 10 years as the commissioner of White Plains and also a couple of years as deputy commissioner of White Plains,” Chong said. “An absolute, absolute superman of a person.”
Ciocca was born Apr. 28, 1958, in White Plains to JoAnn MacDonald Ryan and the late Adelmo Ciocca. He was a beloved father and son who enjoyed going to Oakland Raiders and Chicago Blackhawks games with his family.
In a tribute posted on the White Plains Professional Firefighters Facebook page, the union called Ciocca “a devoted fireman, a stalwart leader and a caring friend.” His passing creates a significant void for the department and the city.
“A consummate professional, he was always calm, cool and collected whether inside a burning building or in command of operations from the outside,” the posting stated. “He cared for his men deeply as if they were his sons, and always put first the well-being of not only them but their families as well.”
County Executive George Latimer said Monday that Ciocca was one of three firefighters around the county that were lost since late last week. Andrew DiMaggio, a captain and a 31-year veteran of the New Rochelle Fire Department and a fire instructor, died from COVID-19 while Mount Vernon firefighter also died last weekend. The cause of Le Selva’s death wasn’t released.
Latimer said flags on county property will continue to fly at half-mast to honor the first responders and all 1,101 county residents who have died since the start of the pandemic.
“These are people whose lives matter,” Latimer said of the firefighters. “They gave their service in each of their professional lives to the rest of us fighting fires and now they have been lost to us through COVID.”
Besides his mother JoAnn, Ciocca is survived by his daughter, Brianna Ciocca, of Elmsford; two sisters, Kim Treacy of Fishkill and Tracey Bonaro of Clifton Park, N.Y.; and his girlfriend, Maureen Nestor Brown.
A fire department funeral was scheduled for Tuesday at 1 p.m. at McMahon, Lyon & Hartnett Funeral Home in White Plains.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the American Nurses Foundation at www.nursingworld.org would be appreciated.