'Ten House' Lost 5 Firefighters On 9-11

POSTED: 7:39 p.m. EST November 5, 2003

NEW YORK -- The firefighters who were first to respond to the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11 reopened their firehouse on Wednesday, although some had mixed feelings about returning.

"It would have been nice to have been on the west side," said firefighter Anthony Konczynski, glancing across the street at where the twin towers stood, "so we wouldn't have to look at it."

Engine 10-Ladder 10, located at 124 Liberty St., across the street from the trade center site, reopened after a $3.5 million renovation that put better air conditioning, better plumbing and a bigger kitchen in the 136-year-old fire station.

But more than half the 40 firefighters at the station, known as "Ten House," are no longer assigned there. Many transferred or were promoted, said firefighter John Morabito. Five were killed at the trade center.

Morabito said he's glad to return.

"I think it's important for people to see what happened over here," he said. "This is my home. No terrorist is going to chase me away from where I live."

The names of the five company firefighters killed at the site -- Lt. Gregg Atlas, Lt. Stephen Harrell, Firefighter Jeffrey Olsen, Firefighter Paul Parsini and Firefighter Sean Tallon -- were painted on a fire engine. And a sixth was added, for James Corrigan, a retired Engine 10 captain who was working as a fire safety director in the trade center on Sept. 11, 2001, and was killed.

The station still retains a logo from 1984, when the two companies began sharing space at Liberty Street; a firefighter stands with a foot on top of each tower, above the slogan, "First Due at the Big One."

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said the decision to keep the logo is "a sign of defiance."

"You don't give in to terrorist activity," he said.

Following the collapse of the twin towers, tons of debris fell on Ten House, blowing out windows and doors, flooding the building with 3 feet of debris and destroying the ventilation system.

The two lower Manhattan fire companies were sharing space with other firehouses on Duane Street and on South Street while their firehouse was being renovated. The companies are responsible for the trade center, City Hall, the Statue of Liberty and Wall Street firms.

"We've been here since every one of these skyscrapers came up," said Engine 10 Capt. Thomas Meara. "We're glad to once again be protecting life on Liberty Street."

Konczynski, a 23-year member of the fire company, said he remembers when the twin towers were built and said he's not looking forward to being reminded daily of the terrorist attack.

"I seen 'em go up. I seen 'em go down," he said of the towers.

The reopening also was difficult for Rosaleen Tallon, whose 27-year-old brother was among the five firefighters killed.

"It's so hard because our guy isn't coming back to us. To see it opening and not have him here," said Tallon, 32, of Yonkers, "that's why it's really hard."