Daughter: WTC Fire Safety Director Loved Job

On Saturday, Laura Froehlich will take the trip with her family from Long Island to New York City just as her father had done every day for most of his life.

Philip T. Hayes was an FDNY firefighter with Engine 217 in Brooklyn from 1959 to 1979 and after retiring he continued work in the city, dealing with importing and exporting. In 1995 he took a job as fire safety director at the World Trade Center.

Froehlich said at first it was just supposed to be a part-time job, but he fell in love with it and made it a full-time gig.

She said he didn't mind continuing to make the long commute and that he really enjoyed the job.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Hayes, 67, died while working at the towers. His family would later learn that he helped rescue children from a day care center in 5 World Trade Center. After bringing the children to safety, he was seen running into the South Tower to try to evacuate the building.

While preparing to head to work, Froehlich received a call from her mother.

"She said, 'Turn on the TV, a plane just hit the South Tower.' "

At that time -- like everyone else -- Hayes' family didn't know the severity of what happened, but once more information started to come out, they were filled with worry. They gathered at his home in East Northport, calling his old firefighter buddies trying to find out if he was alright.

At one point during the attacks, he called his wife, Virginia, just to tell her he was OK and told her that he needed to go. That was the last time he would speak to her.

His remains weren't recovered until the following March in the lobby of the South Tower. His name badge was found next to him and his wallet was still intact. Firefighters from Engine 217 who found him carried him out.

"We were glad that they found him, because I think if they didn't you'd think 'Is he out there somewhere still?' Even though you know he's probably not," his daughter said.

During the ordeal, Froehlich was pregnant with her second child. She gave birth on Oct. 1, 2001 to a baby boy, who weighed 9 pounds, 11 ounces. She and her husband named him Philip.

"Even though my son never met him, I feel like something about him reminds me of my dad," she said.

She had gone to Ground Zero on the anniversary every year since the attacks but last year was the first she took her two sons, now 10 and 13 and her daughter, age 6. She said that she hopes the event continues to be held and that someday her children can read their grandfather's name during the ceremony.

This year the memorial will be unveiled and while it took 10 years to complete, Froehlich said that from what she's see so far in the media, it's been worth the wait.

"All along we thought, 'It's taking a long time.' But from what I've seen, it looks beautiful. It makes me really proud of all of the work that's going into it," she said. ""Its such a nice tribute. It may have taken a while, but now everyone has a place to go to reflect about and honor their loved ones who died that day."

She likes how the names are grouped instead of simply being listed in alphabetical order and said they were told her father's name would be close to the names of the firefighters from his fire company who died.

Hayes' family will be at the newly finished memorial on Sunday, mourning his death as they continue to witness the rebirth of the place where he sacrificed his life in order to save others.