New York Fire Buff Conned FDNY

A convicted Brooklyn forger and blaze buff conned his way into getting rides on firetrucks by showing up in stolen gear and claiming he was going to join the FDNY, law-enforcement sources said yesterday.

Ronald Deshields, 33, a car salesman also suspected of calling in false alarms so he could ride on the trucks, proudly roamed the streets of his Bushwick neighborhood in a firefighter's uniform.

Once, when he was locked out of his apartment, he allegedly told a neighbor, "I work for the FDNY. I know how to break doors, I don't know how to fix them."

His girlfriend, Tracy Bacchus, 37, told The Post, "Since he was young, he always wanted to be a firefighter. That was imbedded in him. That was his passion. He loves it."

Bacchus said Deshields had volunteered with the Broad Channel Fire Department in Queens for two years, but the department did not return calls yesterday.

In May 1999, Deshields plead guilty to numerous charges including criminal impersonation of a security officer. He was paroled in May 2003, but violated his parole and was sent back to prison for another 11 months, authorities said.

He was released in March 2006 and is on parole until August 2008.

About two weeks ago, Deshields showed up at Engine 222 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a mile from his home.

He presented a phony letter purportedly signed by FDNY Chief of Operations Patrick McNally authorizing the ex-con to ride along with the unit's firefighters, the sources said.

Deshields told the firefighters he had a brother on the job and was on the list to attend the Fire Academy in January.

To their surprise, he brought along firefighting gear. That included his own helmet with the words "Probationary Firefighter" on it, and his own carbon-dioxide detector. He also had four stolen FDNY items - a radio, firefighting pants, rope and harness, the sources said.

Engine 222 brass agreed, and Deshields rode on firetrucks at least three times, including one tour that lasted 24 hours. It doesn't appear he went out on any fire runs.

Last Thursday, between his second and third tours, the parolee committed a burglary in Bay Ridge, and was busted and released on $1,000 bail, the sources said.

Deshields showed a working knowledge of firefighting.

But some Engine 222 members were suspicious because he was 33 years old, and the age cutoff for joining the FDNY is 29.

On Sunday, his last tour, Deshields left his radio lying around, and firefighters, by checking the device's caller ID, were able to determine that it had been stolen from Engine 271 in Bushwick.

They notified fire marshals, who busted Deshields Monday on charges of criminal possession of stolen property. He is being held on $20,000 bail.

Republished with permission of The New York Post.

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