As this was being written on Sept. 10, 2009, the day before the eighth anniversary of the day when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and a hijacked jet crashed in Shanksville, PA, preparations were being made across the country for numerous ceremonies to honor those killed on 9/11. In the Bronx, NY, our own Firehouse® Contributing Editor Joe Berry was assisting at a ceremony to honor FDNY Firefighter Peter Bielfeld of Ladder 42, who was off duty on 9/11 and was at the department's Medical Office after being injured at a fire a short time before. When the towers were attacked, Bielfeld left headquarters and went to Engine 10 and Ladder 10 across the street from the World Trade Center to get a set of gear and help out where he could. He left a note for the firefighters to watch his stuff. He walked across the street and Tower 1 collapsed. On Sept. 10, 2009, the street outside his firehouse in the Bronx was dedicated in his honor. His 9-year-old daughter, who was 18 months old when he was killed, flew to New York City from Florida to attend the event for her late father. Many other ceremonies, remembrances and tributes at memorials were taking place, some with presentations of pieces of steel from the World Trade Center that were generously donated across the country.
9/11 is a date that should always be remembered as a day when our nation was attacked. So many lives were changed forever. It is hard to believe that eight years have gone by. A museum planned to honor those who gave their lives is supposed to open by the 10th anniversary. Even harder to believe is that the 102-story Empire State Building, also in New York City, was completed in one year and 45 days in the early 1930s. With bureaucratic red tape and "back to the drawing board" numerous times, and waste on a billion-dollar train station at the site, it is amazing that anything has been accomplished. The 41-story Deutsche Bank building across the street from the World Trade Center and the Engine 10/ Ladder 10 firehouse still lies half demolished after a seven-alarm fire on Aug. 18, 2007, took the lives of two firefighters. (Those two firefighters were trapped and ran out of air on the 14th floor of the building. The building was down to the 26th floor while asbestos abatement was underway. Sections were sealed off with plastic sheeting and stairways were sealed with plywood, severely limiting access.)
Many innocent victims suffer today from the terrible effects of 9/11. Many who worked the site afterward to recover the dead have taken ill. Much more must be done to ensure that those in need of medical help and monitoring are provided for. It's human nature, but as with most tragedies, people tend to forget rather quickly - especially all of the politicians who quickly jumped on the bandwagon to have their pictures taken with the "heroes." They should deliver or we should vote in people who will listen and do the right thing.
At presstime, the "Station Fire" had been burning for over two weeks north of Los Angeles and had destroyed half of the National Forest. Tragically, two firefighters lost their lives during the fire, which has been determined to be arson. The cost to battle the fire has been put in the tens of millions, but the loss to the forest and roads and other costs will be in the billions, not to mention the loss to the families and the firefighters who worked with the fallen.
It was tough to see my friends Deputy Chief Mike Bryant of the Los Angeles County Fire Department and Buffalo Fire Commissioner Mike Lombardo on TV talking to the media regarding double line-of-duty deaths in each department recently. Our thoughts and prayers go out to each department, families and firefighters who worked with the deceased. We shall never forget.
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