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There are a few things that have been happening behind the scenes after 9/11/01 that I want to bring to your attention. Some are especially noteworthy.
Several groups have really pitched in during a time of need. Whether by attending funerals or memorial Masses, standing in the long blue line, or helping out in the family center or at their old firehouse, the retired firefighters of the FDNY stepped up and provided needed support after Sept. 11. The firefighters of the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area have assisted in many ways, including preparation for the funerals and Masses and transporting family, relatives and firefighters. They have provided apparatus for caissons and have been supporting and running collations. The six-member FDNY ceremonial unit handles funerals and special events. Following 9/11, the members handled 152 memorial services in 30 days. In the next three weeks 57 more services are planned. The unit had to add 54 men to handle an average of six services per day. On Oct. 6, the unit handled 24 services. The FDNY Emerald Society Pipe Band has also had to split up and played at almost every service.
Firefighters from across the United States and Canada have answered the call to provide strength in numbers at the numerous funerals and Masses held almost every day for those killed in the World Trade Center attack. We are grateful to the NYPD and metropolitan police departments that have closed roads near these services, provided family and firefighter escorts, and allowed the firefighters attending to park nearby. At many of these services police helicopters flew over in the "missing-man" formation to add to the final tribute.
Many apparatus manufacturers, distributors and suppliers of fire, rescue, EMS and hazardous materials equipment have donated, delivered or made provisions to replace damaged apparatus, tools and equipment. Other important items like helmets for presentations to families at firefighters funerals are being delivered in an expedited manner. Many businesses have donated food, beverages and so much more to help in this very difficult time. Numerous volunteers have provided meals, counseling and first-aid services. A tip of the helmet to all who have helped.
In our Chief Concerns column on page 30, Chief Michael J. Essex of the City of Miami Fire Rescue Department's Emergency Response Division takes a look at the state of our hazmat delivery systems and how the events of 9/11 have placed a huge burden on responding services. His column, titled "Domestic Terrorism: What Have We Learned?" is an interesting look at a situation that can be rectified with a little public relations help by our public information officers and the media. A must-read for every first responder.
Firefighters and other emergency workers continue to work tirelessly on a nationwide effort to raise money for the families of those lost in the World Trade Center. The amount of money that the public has contributed to these funds is unprecedented. A fire captain from California called a few weeks ago to report that he had raised $250,000 and that others were raising more. A few days later, he called back to report that his group was ready to present a check for $2 million. In New Jersey, $50,000 was collected on one street during two weekends. In Michigan, two separate fund raisers made about $140,000. The town of Hanniford, WA, wants to raise enough money to purchase an FDNY tower ladder and all the associated equipment. This is intended to place a truck destroyed at the World Trade Center back in first-line service. During World War II, this community raised enough money to purchase a bomber aircraft for use in the war effort.
Unfortunately, we are hearing that some money in a few big-name funds (not fire service) may not go where it was intended to go. Along with everyone else, I hope that the people administering these funds stay on the right course. The fire service has a good memory and will never forget. If for some reason money that was donated to help firefighters' families becomes sidetracked, the people who manage those funds will have many questions to answer and may have a black eye for a long, long time.