Albany Airport’s longest-tenured employee, a firefighter, retires

Albany County

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Albany International Airport’s longest-tenured employee, a firefighter, was honored Wednesday morning in a walking-out ceremony.

Sante “Sandy” Debacco started as an Albany International Airport firefighter in 1983. He has seen the airport rebuilt from scratch in his 38 years there. During that time, he mentored over 60 firefighters and served as a jack of all trades: an EMT, hazmat technician, and everything in between.

“I’m thankful to all my fellow firefighters that helped me through. We worked together as a team and it was a good run,” Debacco told NEWS10.

“He was the first to want to get dirty and to help out, no matter how many years he was here,” said David Cook, Chief of the Albany Airport Rescue and Firefighting Department, “like yesterday, he was out working with the guys cleaning the snow off the sidewalks. That’s the kind of guy he is.”

Debacco has been present for some major arrivals at the airport.

“President Clinton came in the ‘90s,” Debacco said, “and then, President Obama came a couple of times during his tenure…and I was on duty for all of those, and that was exciting.”

However, those big events aren’t his top favorite memories from nearly 40 years on the job. It was the day-to-day stuff that he thinks of most fondly.

“Helping the people when any of the employees, or passengers, or the traveling public ever needed any kind of assistance, I was there. I was glad to be there to help,” Debacco said.

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