Remembering FDNY Firefighters’ 9/11 Sacrifice

One of my colleagues, Michelle Brigman, climbed a 110 story building this weekend to honor the memory of 343 FDNY firefighters who died back on 9/11, a dark, dark day in American history.

I didn’t know that fateful day that I’d be involved in the fire service some 9 months later as VP of Product Management at E-ONE, then the #2 manufacturer of fire/rescue vehicles in the North America.

I got to work with firefighting heroes everyday for 2 years. With the exception of working with our corporate parent, Federal Signal, it was about as much fun as I ever had in business.

One day, our CEO arranged for all his VPs to put on the full outfit (turnout gear) and go into a hot building at a fire college. I was encouraged not to do this as I’m a diabetic. Diabetics don’t do well in high heat. I had to do it. I didn’t want to miss out on the experience.

My pupils were huge after I got out the heat. One of my colleagues was really worried about me. EMTs were called to come check me out. Yes, I wanted to escape my body from the heat I had just experienced. Turnout gear is air tight. So, you sweat big time in it. But, this is a feature, not a bug. A firefighter would suffer severe burns if the gear exchanged hot air as his/her perspiration would get quite hot.

I know the experience they gave us was modest compared to what firefighters would typically experience. But, I’m grateful for experience. I was soaking wet. I think I drank 3 gallons of water that day.

One tidbit I learned and confirmed with probably more than 100 departments: it is very rare for people firefighters assist or save to ever say “thank you” for what they do. Most tell me it happens less than 1% of the time. Can you imagine?

If a firefighter ever helps you or your family, please say “thanks.” It will put you in the 1%.


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