Smaller Crowd, But 9/11 Still Resonates for FDNY

Chief Leader - September 16, 2009

by ARI PAUL

Date Marked At Memorial

Fire Lieut. Steve Burey of The Bronx believes that too many people have forgotten about 9/11, but eight years later the memory is still clear in the minds of Fire Department members, who lost 343 comrades—including the Chief of Department and a Deputy Commissioner—that day.

"Every time that you come down to this day you just think about it, you kind of put it on the back burner sometimes trying to get on with your life but . . ." he said with a shrug standing with other members at the FDNY Memorial in Riverside Park Sept. 11.

But the crowd gathered that morning for the reading of the names was smaller than in years past, perhaps due to the pouring rain.

Amid Pain, Better Preparation

While the pain lingers, Lieutenant Burey said, members are better prepared for terrorist attacks than they were eight years ago.

"No one expected that to happen," he said. "Now that it did happen, things are a lot different from what they used to be. The knowledge that we gained, the training because of it, things to look out for, think-outsideof the-box-stuff."

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta has hailed a training program at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where fire officers study the evolving field of counter-terrorism. While Lieutenant Burey has not taken part, he believed it was improving the department.

"I'm sure the upper guys do, and that filters down to us," he said.

During the ceremony, 45 cadets from the Montreal Fire Academy stood by the memorial, appearing baby-faced next to the grizzled and weather-worn mugs of high-ranking FDNY officials.

Their Captain, Jonathan Andre, said he brought the cadets to the city on the anniversary of 9/11 as a form of inspirational training.

'A Big Family'

"We're actually going to live that way," he said. "It's going to be our job later on so it touches us."

One cadet added, "It's a big family, you know."

This year's anniversary of the attacks for the FDNY also marked the launch of one of two new Marine Division boats, the Three Forty Three, which left Panama City, Florida Sept. 11 and was expected to arrive in Manhattan in December. Replacing the 50-year-old John D. McKean, the boat designed with U.S. military know-how and financed with Department of Homeland Security funding can pump 50,000 gallons of water per minute. The old boat pumped out 27,000 gallons.

"There'll be detection equipment on those boats; they are not just boats putting out water," Commissioner Scoppetta said, explaining that the Three Forty Three is designed to monitor for the presence of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

He said later in a statement, "On Sept. 11, we all saw how important fireboats are to New York City. The FDNY Marine Division rescued and transported hundreds of citizens and provided the only supply of water to battle the fires at the World Trade Center for many days. The Three Forty Three will significantly improve our ability to respond to emergencies in and around New York Harbor, while also reminding us all of the incredible sacrifices so many of our members made eight years ago."