Just as most of you, I have also been keeping on eye on all the 9/11 tributes, remembrances and memorial ceremonies. To be honest I was not going to write about any of it. What can I say that has not already been said and most certainly more poetic. Late this afternoon a few of us were looking at a new Firefighter Survival prop that was recently build for our in-house training. The new prop is great, it can be configured in a few ways and will be a fantasic training aid. After we left I started thinking to myself how much so many great Firefighters have influenced me, even if I never sat in their class or even was in the Fire Service when they were.
Today, as time is spent reflecting, remembering and ensuring we never forget, please remember to celebrate. Pay tribute to the lives they led, the deeds they performed and most importantly the lessons they taught us. Not just those lost on 9/11 but all those who worked the job, loved the profession and gave all for Honor, Duty and Pride.
Among the 343 FDNY Firefighters that performed their last act of devotion that day were Lt. Andy Fredericks and Chief Ray Downey. Lt. Fredericks was a talented Firefighter and Instructor. The fire attack methodologies he taught changed the way Engine Companies operated. Andy’s quotes have graced the pages of magazines and the web to show the impact of his legacy. “The garbage man doesn’t turn the corner and get excited when he finds garbage. So we shouldn’t turn the corner and get excited when we find fire, Expect Fire!”
Chief Ray Downey, one of the most decorated members of FDNY, revitalized FDNY Squad 1 and could be called the Godfather of USAR. Chief Downey had such a tremendous passion for training and helping the fire service as a whole, improve. Chief Downey, so respected among his peers and beyond, that each year the Ray Downey Award is given to a Firefighter who performed a great act of heroism in the line of duty. 9/11 is the second time Chief Downey responded to acts of terrorism at the WTC.
A side note about Chief Downeys beloved Squad 1, on 9/11 they lost 11 members, one of the most impacted units by the collapse. The foundation, Tunnel to Towers, was formed to “Do Good” in the memory of Squad 1 member Stephen Siller. Learn more by visiting https://tunneltotowersfoundation.org
Scott Thornton, Captain of Summit Twp. Fire in Michigan, lost his life in the line of duty - doing the job he loved. Scott was the departments Training Officer and he advocated self improvement, safety and inspired those who were fortunate enough to have worked with him. On January 20th 2005 the fire service lost a brother,while his family lost a father and husband.
Joe Kail, Firefighter from New Buffalo Michigan, died in the line of duty while responding to a call for assistance. Joe was a volunteer member of this small community fire department and served for many years. His legacy, of volunteering to help the town where lived is honorable and should also be “never forgotten.”
These two men, just as those who gave their lives on 9/11 took an oath to serve their fellow man. To act in times of need with compassion, honesty and integrity. All members of the American Fire Service have the opportunity to make an impact, to maybe change a life and to leave behind their own legacy. The pride we should feel, the admiration we should have for those we have lost should drive us to be our best every single day and in everything we do.
As a nation we come together on this day to honor those who lost their lives in a horrific event. As Firefighters every day we should remember through our actions, our passion for this job and learning the lessons from those we have lost. Those that have been around, ensure new Firefighters understand what never forgetting truly is. A 343 sticker on your truck or helmet is just a visual reminder to live your life and work the job with the same commitment that the men listed above, did for so many years.
Remembering, it is about what you do with those memories.