It was the 11th of September 2001 and was a lovely warm and tranquil morning. Not a lot of people had stirred as it was only 6:00 am but although I had to be at work in half an hour I didn’t feel like rushing because I was in one of those lazy moods and I was still a bit tired. When I was dressed and fed, I left my house and started to walk down the shady quiet street towards the fire station in which I worked. When I finally got there, the sky had brightened up and there was sound starting to emerge from the everyday morning start of the 9 to 5’ers who seem to have so many things to do before they go to work and are rushing around to get everything done.
Inside the fire station there were already some of the lads, joking around with each other and watching a bit of television, so naturally I went and joined in.
Along came 8:00am which meant that we had to go and clean the engines and ready the equipment, just in case we had any emergency calls, this prepared us and meant that we could respond at our best. It was nearly 10:00am all but about a minute and we had finished all of our daily tasks so (although I am a fireman) I decided to go outside for a cigarette and relax a bit.
I loved just going outside and standing in the street, you could watch the mayhem of the everyday life of all the other people around, also we had some fantastic views from our street, for example the world trade centre, it was magnificent, the tallest two buildings in the world, so close to my daily life.
I don’t know why, but on that particular morning, for the couple of minutes that I stood there I felt a bit strange. I noticed how everyone around was so happy and cheerful. There was a smile on the face of every single person I could see, they all seemed so content with life and there was not one person anywhere who seemed like they had any sort of problem, it was so peaceful to watch.
As I stood there I realised that I could hear an enormous roaring sound overhead, almost like a thousand lions screaming to get out of a cage. That is when It first started (although It didn’t really sink in what was happening at that precise moment), this ultimate force came shattering overhead and it flew straight into one of those truly magnificent sights of mine and caused an explosion that literally blinded me of everything that I could usually see.
By the time that I had finally contemplated what had happened there were people literally running and screaming everywhere and the happy, peaceful streets had become chaos. My work pals were yelling at me to hurry up and get my equipment sorted out so that we could go, at this point I just could not believe what had just happened, right in front of me. I got ready faster than I ever had before and before I knew it we were in our big red engine speeding towards the flaming building in which had smoke billowing out of it.
Minutes later we were outside the ruined structure leaping out of the engine and helping people evacuate the situation as fast as possible. We entered the main lobby of the building and there were firemen absolutely everywhere, from every precinct around, there were 5 or 6 fire chiefs all having a discussion over what to do and they were setting up teams of firemen to go upstairs to evaluate the situation and see if anyone could be helped. Just then one looked up and called me over, I jogged towards him and asked if I could help, he replied “we need as many men as possible to volunteer to go upstairs”.
Without a second thought I agreed and was ‘kitting up’ ready.
When on the staircase (which was enclosed with smoke) I decided that I would go as far up as possible and help people up there. As I went further up I was passing other firemen who were going down and telling me that it was not safe to go any higher, my mind was in a spin because as the other firemen were telling me not to go any higher, I could here the scared screams of the frightened trade centre employees and I thought that I must help them. I persevered on and as I got closer to the screams I knew myself that it was not at all safe to be here, but I was not bothered by this because something else had drawn my attention, it was the same high velocity roar that I had originally heard and this time it was exceptionally close and thought that it was going to hit me and I was going to die, but instead I ‘once again’ heard that ‘earth shaking’ explosion and realised that something else had now been hit.
It was pitch black where I was and other than a couple of trapped trade employees in whom I was trying to help, there was no-one. I could hear screams and shouts of hundreds of people who sounded truly terrified and this was not at all a pleasant surrounding to be left on your own with. As I was thinking about all of this being over, the floor that I was standing on shook very violently and everything around me compacted very suddenly.
That was the last thing that I remember, before I woke up in a hospital not too far from my home, being broken the news that I was the only man still alive from my precinct and that I was lucky.