“I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a firefighter The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we who know the work which the firefighter has to do believe that his is a noble calling."

-Chief Edward F. Croker FDNY circa 1910

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9/11 Dealing with PTSD.

Everyone deals with depression in their own way. As the anniversary of 9/11 quickly approaches, I would like to share my story of dealing with PTSD, and I manage it every anniversary.

I only worked at the site for a day on 9/12/01, and what I saw will stay with me forever. I can remember 9/11/02 was a restless day and very depressing. On 9/11/03, I decided not to sit around and cry, so I drove into Brooklyn. I found a park in Brooklyn Heights that had a great view of Lower Manhattan. There were a lot of other New Yorkers there, candles were lit and we just watched our City and the skyline that will never be the same. I had a camera with me, in the early 2000's, digital cameras were up and coming. So I took a few pictures. Little did I know, this was me dealing with my PTSD. I was still depressed but I managed to find something to occupy my night and kind of keep me occupied. 9/11/04, I ended up doing the same thing and to this day, I plan accordingly. Since I became an FDNY Firefighter, I got creative. I spent a lot of money on a good camera. During the day I spend the anniversary with my firehouse family as we remember everyone who was lost from the firehouse that day. At night, I do the same thing I did on 9/11/03. 9/11/13, I reached out to a friend on the Fire Boat and they took me out around Manhattan. 9/11/14 & 9/11/15, I went to New Jersey.

While I have plenty of pictures, I will continue the tradition. What took place on that day was nothing but the best of the FDNY and the Country's Fire Service. Members in different capacities gave it their all. Some were working, some weren't. Some were retired, working at the WTC as Fire Safety Directors, others were on injury at Headquarters and still responded. Retired members from home who didn't have to come out, did. An actor/former FDNY Firefighter turned the cameras off and went to his former firehouse to help. On 9/11/01, I responded as a volunteer from Long Island, I met a lot of other members from departments in NY, NJ and across the country.

Below are pictures I have taken. There are 3 pictures that I took from 2003 at the park. We lost members right after 9/11 to PTSD suicide. I wish I could turn back the clock and tell them, there is another way, but I understand their pain.... we all do. If anyone struggles, the FDNY CTU is there for you. Don't deal with it alone, because your not. 

God bless America

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The never ending disaster... 15 years later

15 years ago, on September 11th, 2001, the United States of America took a terrorist hit from radical extremists. This event was felt worldwide; and as a Country- we saw the best and the worst humanity has to offer. Through tragedy, the good hearts stood out and shined brightly. From 1st responders to volunteers, whether it was every day civilians to medical professionals, we all rose to the occation. Funds were set up, musicians and celebrities put on a concert to raise money (The Concert for America). It was a time when we united to recover and respond. Through the dust and rubble rose the stars and stripes, a symbol that we will not back down. 

15 years later, we are still recovering. There are many out there that do not realize, hearts are still sore. Our brothers/sisters/mothers/fathers are still dying, many others suffering and fighting cancer and other various illnesses. A dose of reality, that you *hopefully* will never feel, is when you go to the Cancer Center and see friends/co-workers there. That is what is happening today! More than 150 NYC Firefighters have lost their lives to post-9/11 illness. Many are actively fighting. Some recieved their date of death from the doctors but are still here because they refuse to give up.

In a sense, the nightmare that was 9/11/01 is still happening. I feel the need to write this because, perhaps Facebook has changed something in their marketing scheme, or there really are sneaky people out there that see money in tragedy. Over the past few weeks, I have seen advertising posts from pages I have not 'liked' on Facebook, advertising a 9/11 15th Anniversary t-shirt. An Anniversary t-shirt is a great idea, to keep the memory alive, provided the motive behind the shirt is respectable ie: Proceeds to a foundation so that they may reach those who lived the tragedy and are fighting to live. Unfortunately, we know many people who have questioned some of these fly-by-night pages on facebook and our questions go unanswered/deleted, our accounts are banned from the page. This is called Damage Control by those running the page, deleting the negativity. They avoid the spotlight and continue doing what their doing.

We are asking you, if you really are enthusiastic about seeing an awesome looking t-shirt commemorating one of our worst attacks on our home soil, please do your research. Don't open your wallet so quickly. Inquire where the money is going. DO NOT accept a vague reply. Get specifics. The page 'Support Firefighters' has a 9/11 anniversary t-shirt.... but it is a design that is already out there. Go to www.fdnyshop.com and you will find the original design. www.fdnyshop.com is an official page of the FDNY Foundation, a legit foundation that is there helping FDNY firefighters, and the facebook page 'Support Firefighters' took the design and changed minor details and are marketing it on-line.

Facebook will not shut their page down, it is up to us to look into it. Please share this article, spread the word. 

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Remembering Lt Carpluk Jr & FF Reilly

Sunday August 27th 2006, at 1230hrs, Bronx CO received a telephone alarm reporting a store fire at 1575 Walton Ave. Box 2797 was transmitted. Eng.42 transmitted the 10-75 at 1233hrs, heavy smoke venting from the front of a 99¢ Store, a 1 story class 3(non-fireproof) commercial 45x65. The store suffered severe damage 6 years ago (7/17/00) when it had a 3rd Alarm fire. Since then, it underwent extensive alteration that was not consistent with the architectural plans filed.

The fire originated on the 1st floor rear and quickly extended to the ceiling. Combustible stock ignited the Masonite ceiling which was nailed directly to the bottom of the roof joists. Due to the fire load, a 2nd alarm was quickly transmitted.

21 minutes after the arrival of FDNY units, the failure of a cellar column caused a V-Shaped collapse. This collapse took place without warning. A 3rd alarm was transmitted. 10 members fell into the collapse area. 4 members from Engine 92 were immediately removed by FAST. 6 remaining members were trapped in the collapse. TL-44 Can firefighter was extricated aprox 4 minutes. E-75 B/U Firefighter was extricated aproximately 43 minutes in. TL-44 Officer was extricated approximately 56 minutes. Battalion 17 Chief was extricated approximately 1 hour. Lt Howard Carpluk, E-75 Officer was extricated approximately 1 hour 21 minutes. FF Michael C Reilly, E-75 was extricated approximately 1 hour 41 minutes.

FF Michael C Reilly succumbed to his injuries that day. He was appointed to the FDNY on April 11th, 2006, only on the job for a few months. 

Lt Howard J Carpluk Jr succumbed to his injuries 1 day later, August 28th, 2006. He was appointed to the FDNY August 2nd 1986, promoted to Lieutenant March 6th 1999 assigned to Engine 42. He was working PCOT in Engine 75 for this fire. 

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Engine 329 ATRV - Inside the new vehicle

December 2015, Engine 329 in Rockaway Beach, Queens took delivery of their new 2nd piece, an All Terrain Response Vehicle (ATRV). This 2015 Ford F-550 pick-up truck was fitted with aftermarket compartments and added hose bed. The apparatus does not have pumping capabilities, it is basically a large manifold that will be supplied by an Engine Company.

It has 4-wheel drive capabilities along with a central tire inflation system allowing the operator to inflate/deflate the tires on the move without leaving the cab. It also has a winch that can be operated from front and rear of the vehicle.

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Additional equipment:

30 lengths 3" supply hose.

8 lenghts 2 1/2 hose

12 lengths 1 3/4 hose

Forcible entry tools

2 1/2 gallon water extinguisher

SCBA

Rescue Surfboard

Water Rescue equipment (Cold Water Rescue Suit, PFD's, 600' Ocean Rescue Rope, Torpedo, Wetsuit with boots & fins, Binoculars, Bull horn)

CFR-D equipment

Stokes with floatation & Backboard

Indian Cans

24 ft portable ladder

Engine Company 329 calls Rockaway Beach their home. They are 1st due to Breezy Point, Marine Parkway Bridge, Floyd Bennett Field and Jacob Riis Park. It is Company policy to roll the ATRV whenever the Engine gets a run, and this proves helpful on numerous occations. Breezy Point has many walks, areas that the Engine can not reach that their ARTV will. The Company, under the command of Captain Cody, train regularly and are prepared for anything that comes their way whether on land or in the Ocean. We wish them the best of luck with the new apparatus.

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Deutsche Bank Fire

Deutsche Bank Fire

In memory  of FF Joseph Graffagnino, L-5 detailed to E-24 (Posthumously promoted to Lieutenant) and FF Robert Beddia, E-24.

On September 11th, 2001, the Deutsche Bank located at 130 Liberty Street, suffered severe damage from the collapse of the World Trade Center and never reopened for business purpose. August 31st, 2004, Lower Manhattan Development Corp assumed ownership and Asbestos abatement and deconstruction was to take place at different locations within the building. No demolition permit for 130 Liberty was filed or issued, however, a series of alteration permits were filed and issued by NYCDOB. 

On Saturday August 18th, 2007, at 1536hrs, a Telephone Alarm reporting a fire on the scaffolding at 88 Greenwich Street, Box 0047 was transmitted. Initially 2 Engines, 2 Trucks and the Battalion were assigned, but due to subsequent numerous calls, Manhattan Dispatch filled out the assignment to 4 Engines, 2 Trucks, Rescue, Squad, Battalion & HazMat 1 (E-10, E-4, E-6, E-7, L-10, TL-15, Bn-1, Rescue 1, Squad 18). 10 Truck officer transmitted the 10-75 for heavy smoke from the upper floors of the Deutsche Bank with the corrected address of 130 Liberty Street. At 1541hrs, 10 Truck upgraded the box to a 2nd Alarm for fire through the skin of the high rise. At 1547hrs, Battalion 1 transmitted the 10-76(HiRise Commercial fire). Size up was 26 story hi-rise office building182x182 occupying 1 city block and as previously mentioned, undergoing asbestos abatement & demolition. The building was built in 1974, 38 stories tall prior to demolition. All interior elevators were out of service & exterior construction elevators were used to gain access to upper floors. The standpipe was reported by construction workers to be a 'dry system', however when fed from the street, water did not reach the fire floor. It was found that a section was missing in the sub level A. 

The 1st hoseline had to be stretched up the exterior of the building. It took 67 minutes from the initial transmission of alarm until a charged hoseline was in position on the 15th floor manned by Engine 24. The delay in water allowed the fire to extend from the 17th floor to the top 26th floor, also downward to the 16th, 15th, 14th, 12th & 5th floors. 

FF Graffagnino was found unconscious on the 14th floor at 1701hrs. He was removed to Downtown Beekman Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. FF Beddia was found unconscious on the 14th floor at 1710hrs. He was also removed to Downtown Beekman Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

FDNY BFI determined the fire to have been started by careless discard of smoking material on the southside of the 17th floor in the decontamination area. 

The following building conditions contributed to the death of the 2 firefighters:

The sprinkler system required by code was out of service.

The standpipe system required by code was out of service.

The means of egress (A & B Stairways) required by code were blocked by sealed wooden platforms that prevented members from dropping down below the fire.

The Stairway enclosures required by code had either been compomised or removed at several locations.

Timeline:

1536hrs: Phone Alarm Recieved

1537hrs: Box 0047 transmitted:

1540hrs: 10 Truck transmitted 10-75 for heavy smoke from upper floors

1541hrs: 10 Truck transmitted 2nd Alarm for heavy fire through the skin.

1541hrs: 10 Engine officer orders ECC to supply siamese on Albany St. This stretch took aprox 15 minutes due to distance around construction trailers.

1542hrs: 10 Truck reports fire on multiple floors and scaffolding, units to use caution.

1544hrs: 10 Engine enters elevator operated by Construction Elevator operator. Operator informs the boss the standpipe was dry. Upon arrival to 15th floor, conditions were clear. E-10 officer noted B stairs there was no outlet & 16th floor was blocked off by wooden platform sealed in plastic. He dropped down to the 14th floor & again, couldn't find an outlet.

1547hrs: Battalion 1 arrived, transmitted the 10-76.

1547hrs: Squad 18, Engine 6 & Rescue 1 arrive. Engine 6 and Squad 18 assist Engine 10 ECC stretching to the siamese.

1548hrs: Engine 10 contacted Ladder 10 looking for saws to get access to the sealed wooden platforms. Ladder 10, 15 & Engine 7 ascend in the other contruction elevator. Ladder 8 arrived & was ordered to bring saws to the 15th floor.

1548hrs: Engine 10 observed fire started to drop to the 15th floor decon area. He asked his ECC status of the siamese, which he was still having trouble reaching.

1548hrs: Box 9031 & 9032 transmitted, bringing in Brooklyn units to lower Manhattan.

1559hrs: Engine 10 ECC advised he was supplying water to the standpipe system. No water reached the 15th floor. (It was later discovered a section of this standpipe was missing.)

1601hrs: Both A & B stairway is now filled with smoke. 

1604hrs; 10 Truck reported "We gained entry to the 16 floor. Search Rope is being deployed. The search is going slow due to the fact that we may have holes in the floor. I do not believe that the fire is on 16. It may be on the 17th." 

1607hrs: Engine 4 officer made a transmission to Battalion 1 that they may  need to drop a line down the exterior of the building. 

1607hrs: Rescue transmitting to Battalion 2 "This is Rescue 1, We got up 2 floors above where I saw you. I believe it's 17. We could hear a good body of fire crackling up here. Lotta heat, the camera is showing hot. I don't see any actual flaming but we hear it. It's basically right at the stairway. No line up here yet. There are lots of holes in the floor right by the stairway so tell the guys to be careful".

1612hrs: Squad 18 asked for permission to drop a line down from the 15th floor. He was ordered to stand by as Command assumed the issue with the standpipe would be resolved soon.

1612hrs: Engines 4, 6 & 24 connected their roll ups preparing to drop it down the exterior.

1613hrs: Engine 33 ECC observed water cascading into sub level A (the 1st to notice a possible break in the standpipe)

1613hrs: Visibility dropped to near zero on the 15th floor, described by numerous members as a curtain of black smoke falling rapidly. Construction debris & deteriorating fire condition impeded numerous members from exiting to a safe area. Some members became disoriented & were seperated from their unit. (This is 36 minutes after the initial alarm transmission).

Between 1614hrs & 1717hrs, 14 MAYDAY transmissions & 19 URGENT transmissions were recorded.

1614hrs: Engine 10 MAYDAY "asssist us. It's banked down and starting to get hot".  Engine 10 & 7 were attempting to exit the 15th floor & unable to locate stairway B.  Engine 10 officer decided to head to stairway A, he felt heat in front and behind him. Rescue 2 was ordered to address this MAYDAY.

1617hrs: Engine 10 Nozzle became seperated from Engine 10. He transmitted a MAYDAY. 3 seperate MAYDAY's were transmitted within a 2 minute 36 second time frame.

In the chaos, members were attempting to retreat to a safe area. The line was lowered via exterior but they needed to add more hose to the tip. Engine 24 members split up as they were attempting to fix this issue. Engine 24 officer was eventually assisted to safety, exhausted & out of air. FF Beddia told E-24 back-up that he was going to drop down to the 14th floor. E-24 Back-up had no further contact with FF Beddia. When E-24 Back-up reached the 14th floor landing, he encountered FF Graffagnino who was gasping. He attempted to give Graffagnino his facepiece for air, but immediately felt the effects of the acrid smoke. FF Graffagnino appeared to be disoriented. E-24 Back-Up attempted to pull FF Graffagnino to the ground but fell back.

1650hrs: E-24 Back-Up transmitted the MAYDAY for Graffagnino & Beddia. 

1652hrs: 3rd Alarm transmitted. (75 minutes in)

1653hrs: E-24 Back-Up reached other firefighters. He informed Rescue 1, Rescue Battalion aide & Battalion 41 that Graffagnino & Beddia were still inside. E-24 Back-Up was exhausted & vomitting. There were other MAYDAY's transmitted & resolved during this.

1657hrs: There were no units operating above the 14th floor. Engine 24, Rescue 1, Rescue Battalion, Battalion 41 & Division 11 were the only units operating on the 14th floor. 

1657hrs: Battalion 2 made inquiry of missing members from Engine 24.

1658hrs: Rescue Battalion aide reported he is on the 14th floor & E-24 Back-Up states the rest of his company is missing, can we confirm this.

After hearing a PASS alarm, even though exhausted & operating for over an hour, Rescue 1 conducted the search. Division 11 located FF Graffagnino on the north side just across from the B stairway. He was supine & unconscious. His PASS alarm was activated.

17:07hrs Rescue 1 officer reported hearing another PASS alarm sounding. Engine 3 officer located FF Beddia in the core area between 2 turnstiles. He was on the edge of the platform that covered the original building elevator shafts on the east side of the core area. He was unconscious in the prone position.

Lt Joseph Graffagnino was posthumously promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on August 18, 2007. He was appointed Probationary Firefighter May 9th, 1999. He was assigned to Engine 24 August 4th, 1999 & transfered to Ladder 5 on December 9th, 2006.  He was detailed to Engine 24 for the day tour at the time of the Deutsche Bank fire assigned to the Control position.

FF Robert Beddia was appointed Probationary Firefighter on October 24th, 1983. December 7th 1983 he was assigned to Engine 24. For the Deutsche Bank fire, FF Beddia was working Overtime for the day tour assigned to the Nozzle position.

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