New York Daily News

Lucky rookie looks to quit cops for FDNY

March 3, 2007

BY ERNEST NASPRETTO and ALISON GENDAR DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

He may soon be handing in the badge that saved his life.

Rookie cop Stuart Ingram's application to join the FDNY has been accepted, and he can enter the Fire Academy's next class, the Daily News has learned.

Ingram has long dreamed of joining the FDNY, but now finds himself in an awkward position.

The smiling young cop was held up for praise by NYPD brass just two days ago after the badge pinned to his chest shielded him from harm when an alleged drunken driver stabbed him after nearly running down a nun, Hannah Cox.

The blade shattered against Ingram's shield, allowing him to arrest his attacker and escape with only a cut on his finger.

Before the clash, the 22-year-old had planned to leave the NYPD on March 12, police and fire sources said yesterday.

Ingram's father is Fire Battalion Chief Robert Ingram. The rookie cop also has two uncles in the FDNY, relatives said.

"He wants to follow in his father's footsteps," the cop's grandfather Robert Ingram said. "He took tests for both departments but didn't know when he was going to get called by the FDNY. He graduated from the Police Academy Dec. 26 . . . and then learned he would be in the Fire Academy's next class."

After appearing on the front page of yesterday's Daily News for his heroics, Stuart Ingram was reluctant to say if he still intends to join the FDNY.

"Once I hear something official, I can make my decision," he said. "I took that test when I was 17, so it was quite a bit before yesterday."

An NYPD spokesman wished Ingram well whichever uniform he chooses, while Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said the cop's potential exit illustrates wider recruiting problems.

NYPD and FDNY recruits now earn the same salary - $25,100. But the new firefighters contract announced last night will raise the pay of FDNY probies to $35,000.

"Unfortunately, the city will have to spend about $100,000 to recruit, screen and train someone to replace Ingram, and that person is likely to leave for a better job, too," Lynch said.

With John Lauinger