FDNY - Our Prayers are with You and Your Families
By John Darmanin, Director
Sept 28, 2001

The cowardly attack in New York and the Pentagon has changed our lives forever. The anger we feel against those responsible is only exceeded by the pain and sorrow we have for all of the victims and their families. As firefighters, we hold a special bond with the FDNY firefighters who lost their lives to help in the evacuation of the World Trade Center.

Until “September 11”, the loss of over 300 firefighters at one incident was inconceivable. The truth is,

the tragedy in New York could have happened in any city in the country. Very little, if anything, could have been done to reduce the casualties of firefighters. Our duty is to get the job done when innocent lives are at stake. FDNY firefighters died “doing their job”. GOD BLESS THEM for their ultimate sacrifice and GOD BLESS the families they leave behind.

Immediately after the tragedy, many of us volunteered to go to New York to assist in the rescue and recovery in the form of official “mutual aid”. Apparently, an overwhelming response by Fire Departments all over the country precluded the need for the San Francisco Fire Department to provide official “mutual aid”.

As the days passed and the devastation of the attack in New York was reported on television, it became increasingly difficult and frustrating to just sit and wait to be detailed to New York. Several groups of San Francisco Firefighters decided to go to New York, give assistance wherever needed and learn from the greatest American disaster of our time. In total, approximately 25 San Francisco firefighters traveled to New York at their own expense. Despite funds that were donated to underwrite their mission of mercy, they wanted to bear the expense themselves and give all the collected donations to the families of the fallen firefighters.

Upon their arrival, many of our SF Firefighters were dispatched to “ground zero” to assist in the somber task of searching for survivors that didn’t exist. It was and still is grueling, backbreaking, and dangerous work to sift through the mountain of rubble. Would the rescue and recovery efforts in New York been able to continue without the San Francisco Firefighters from San Francisco? Of course. But, the real assistance that our San Francisco Firefighters gave to our brothers in the FDNY was “peer support”. The entire membership of the FDNY is in the same “soup”. It is near impossible for them to seek emotional support from their coworkers for fear of placing a further burden of each other.

The SFFD volunteers that traveled to New York and all of the firefighters that responded from the entire country proved to be an invaluable resource to the emotional well being of the FDNY firefighters. When the day’s work at “ground zero” was completed, our representatives from the SFFD were there to share their pain and suffering and provide “peer support” that a $100K a year shrink could never give.

WE ARE ALL FAMILY in the fire service. It meant a lot to our counterparts in the FDNY to see our San Francisco Firefighters in New York. Well, this is one Union Director and fireman who would like to personally thank all of the San Francisco Firefighters who traveled to New York for sacrificing their time away from their families to go to the aid of our brothers in New York. Although you were all there at your own expense, you have represented our San Francisco Fire Department and our Union with PRIDE and INTEGRITY. The membership and the citizens of San Francisco owe you a debt of gratitude. God Bless you and all of the victims and families who remain behind. Our thoughts and prayers are with them all.


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