As the sun rose on this morning just like it did on September 12, 2001, the day after the attack on this great nation; let’s all reflect on the great lessons we as a fire service were taught.
“Where were you when the world stopped turning”? Alan Jackson would ask this in his hit song not long after the attacks. Yes, that day did stop turning for most of us, it sure seemed like it did. However, FDNY did not stop turning.
We, as a nation, gathered around our televisions and radios in disbelief as airplanes were slamming the World Trade Center Towers. All of us watching and listening to the impossible unfolding in Lower Manhattan.
Every year on this day of remembrance, I well up with pride for the ones I never knew, and gave up their lives on that day. There was one man that I had the pleasure to know. Andy Fredricks of Squad 18 FDNY. A firefighter that forever changed my thinking on nozzles and engine work. I was fortunate enough to pick his brain. I met him at the N.Y.S. Chiefs show in Syracuse N.Y. Andy taught me so much about engine work that I would apply within my fire department. To this day, every single member has benefited from his knowledge. I wonder what Andy would be teaching today?
In all reality, Andy and his brothers that were lost forever on September 11, 2001 taught us how to be the most exceptional firefighters we can be.
On that beautiful morning, all of us as a nation were shell-shocked at what was unfolding before our very eyes. As it goes for the FDNY it was a job to do just like every day before. Unit after unit, from around the city poured into lower Manhattan. Due to the time of day and tours changing, apparatus ran heavy with our fellow brothers of the FDNY. Like always FDNY never missed a beat that morning. A terrorist attack, mind-boggling with the amount of fire and casualties they would encounter. The FDNY made sure they would do anything and everything humanly possible to rescue as many victims as they could. As for the FDNY, their world didn’t stop turning for one second that day. In fact, it would be the day that the FDNY inspired a country and changed our fire service forever.
Bravery, duty, camaraderie, service, love of country, love of fellow man, professionalism, pride, dignity, and teamwork; the FDNY taught and demonstrated all of these traits to the world that day.
Andy Fredricks and all his brothers will have forever etched these words in firefighting history for what they mean and stand for. Not only to be in the American Fire Service but to be of true service. As only FDNY can do, a tough group of well-trained brothers entered those buildings to fight the fight, that no one else has ever had done in the history of the fire service. Not only did they not flinch in the face of terrorism, but the brothers of FDNY also dug deep to make the push for the greatest rescue operation in the history of firefighting.
When any of us in this nation roll out the doors first due on what sounds like the impossible, let this day and the brothers we lost inspire us to know nothing is impossible. If we follow the brave example that they set and rely on our training, we can fight against impossible odds. It could be two buildings going at once in your jurisdiction. Also, a short-staffed paid department you may be waiting on mutual aid, to make any progress on a three-story flat ripping in the middle of the block. The point is that we all can feel overwhelmed at an incident. However, like FDNY, we need to push on and handle the situation at hand with failure as not an option.
The terrorists that day I am sure never thought 343 FDNY brothers would give the greatest effort in all of firefighting history, as well as their lives to save thousands.
FDNY, fires no problem, extrication no problem, hazmat no problem, rescue ops no problem, and terrorist attack NO PROBLEM !! That day, my friends, the world never stopped turning for the FDNY. For us, they gave the best lessons in firefighting you could ask.
Whether you are on the job in Albany N.Y. or run with Ulster Hose in N.Y. If you run with Lake Jackson in TX, or on the job with Houston TX, and any place in between; hold this day dear and pass on everything about it. We owe it to the bravest who took on a terrorist act and didn’t turn around to persevere as they did. They went up and will never, ever, be forgotten.
Let us also be sure to support the brothers who fight this tragedy still today. We need to support the brothers who battle cancer because of this horrific event. Whether it be a benefit, or lobbying politicians to fight for those that still suffer from that day and the months after combing the pile; let us not forget the families of those left behind and suffer with the effects of that day. They had to give a father, brother, uncle, or husband to this tragedy. Let us not forget Jon Stewart, who gave the best off the cuff speech to congress to secure funding for those in need.
To the FDNY brothers, sisters and the unions who work hard to support those still with us, we thank you. I hope everyone with FDNY understands that the rest of us hold you in the highest esteem and have nothing but gratitude for all that you have done and continue to do. Stay safe.
About the author: Ed Dolan is a 29-year member of the Catskill Fire Department in N.Y. He has served 16 years as a chief officer. He is a contributor to the Leather Head Mafia website and facebook page. He can be reached at Chiefed03@gmail.com