Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive

    September 11, 2001
    World Trade Center
    New York, New York

Cover Story


On September 11, 2001 a tragic and horrible event took place that changed the minds and hearts of everyone in the world.  The event was the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers.  That day will remain with us forever.

This incident hit all of us very hard because it took the lives of over 340 NYC Firefighters.  Our brothers and sisters had perished and lost their lives doing what they were trained to do without any hesitation.  We all would have done the same thing.

After this incident, many of us were at a loss as to what could we do to help the situation.  Seventy members of the LAFD were sent of New York as part of the CATF-1 USAR Team and CISD Team to assist with the rescue operations.  Some  of the firefighters traveled on their own to volunteer their services to the FDNY. 

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Many of those volunteers worked side by side with the New York Firefighters. At this point, a relationship was started between the LAFD and FDNY. We all learned this when we were rookies; we are accepted and gain respect by our performance and hard work. And all of the firefighters that went to New York earned that respect.

The rest of us stayed in Los Angeles and continued to serve and protect the citizens and community. But like everyone else, we needed to do more. The firefighters wanted to do something for New York City. Firefighters are very creative and pervasive. Firefighters Kevin Lowe and Ray Hoffman started selling fallen Hero bracelets. Firefighters from various stations sold T-shirts. Fire Stations in the valley 'passed the turnout boot". The citizens of Los Angeles opened up their hearts and bought these items to donate funds to FDNY Widows and Children Fund. The firefighters raised over $2.2 million.

Meanwhile, members from the LAFD Fire Hogs Motorcycle Club were planning a trip for firefighters to travel to New York City. The main purpose for going to New York was to honor the firefighters that gave their lives as a result of the World Trade Center disaster. The firefighters planned to attend the Firefighters Memorial Service on Nov. 18, 2001. Approximately one hundred firefighters were scheduled to travel to New York. Mark Akahoshi and Mike Kammerer of the Fire Hogs and the members from Fire Station 10 arranged airline flights and/or hotel accommodations for 100 firefighters. That did not include individual groups that had made their own arrangements. But eventually, all of the groups were going to join together in New York. 

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Then the Memorial Service for the FDNY was postponed. Still, the firefighters decided to go and honor and remember our fallen brothers and sisters. Regardless of the airline incident of an American Airlines flight departing JFK International Airport that had violently crashed into a nearby Queens neighborhood, our determination and dedication to be there for our East Coast brothers remained our focus. And the trip was still on. This was something to be proud of.

On November 15 and 16, the firefighters from Los Angeles arrived at LAX wearing our Union shirts and FDNY hats, eager to support our fallen brothers and sisters. We boarded American Airlines for New York City. And in typical fashion, the firefighters made the trip very enjoyable for the flight attendants and the passengers. Comments from the flight attendants were very positive. They were happy that our group was there to uplift the spirit of the flight. Drinks were on the house, compliments of the Captain. We were not afraid to fly American Airlines and we wanted to show them our support.

Friday, November 16, 2001

When we arrived in New York, FDNY Firefighter Jim Thompson greeted us. Jim was one of the individuals that helped us with the logistics for the trip. By the time we gathered our luggage and the 45 minute bus ride to the Pennsylvania Hotel, it was about 1:00 am.

With everyone in attendance, the LAFD Firefighters left for the Memorial Service for Firefighter John Burnside, Ladder Company 20. scheduled for 0900. Firefighter Burnside was a member of the FDNY for only 7 years. As we arrived to the service, the magnitude of what had happened to our fallen brother was heart felt by all. To realize that over 340 FDNY Firefighters lost their lives doing exactly what we would have done if put in that same situation. There were approximately 1000 firefighters from all over the world came to honor and pay their respects for this fallen hero. Every firefighter stood at attention as the procession passed by. The emotion was felt by all, especially when the bagpipes played. The inside of the church was crowded and only a few of us were able to find a seat. After the service, we all were invited to attend a gathering for Firefighter Burnside's family and fellow firefighters, and friends. The hospitality and camaraderie that the FDNY Firefighters showed us was overwhelming. We were greeted and thanked by all of the family members and friends for attending this service. But we are the one's that should thank Firefighter Burnside for opening up our hearts and minds to realize how special this firefighter was.

Saturday, November 17, 2001

It started off to be a beautiful morning with a slight chill in the air. Mark Akahoshi and Steve Ruda started the day with a TV interview on CNN news. To let the whole world know that Firefighters from Los Angeles are in New York to donate over $2.2 million to the FDNY Widows and Children Fund in memory of the firefighters that gave their lives to protect the citizens of New


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York.  It was explained how the money was raised and now the people of Los Angeles and throughout the Southern California opened their hearts and their wallets to donate to the Firefighters of New York.

After the interview, two buses (from the Peter Pan Bus Company loaded with firefighters set out to 40/35 House (Engine Co.40/Ladder Co. 35). It is at this firehouse where the LAFD Firefighters presented large checks totaling $2.2 million to the FDNY Widows and Children Fund. It was very appropriate to use this location because this firehouse lost eleven firefighters at the Word Trade Center. There was sadness mixed with happiness felt throughout all the firefighters. We grieved and mourned over the loss of our brothers but felt enjoyment that we were able to provide a little happiness to the firefighters and the community. It was a timeout for them to take a break and smile. A great big thank you goes out to Lane Kemper for organizing the check presentation. And a big thanks to Steve Ruda, for being the MC during the presentation. He is a professional and has a "gift for gab". Good job. Lane and Steve.

After the ceremony, we loaded up the buses. I swear, we had more firefighters on the buses than we started off with. But like the firefighters that we are, we made it work. The buses transported approximately 100 firefighters to the Memorial Services for Lieutenant Robert Nagel, Engine Co. 58. There were hundreds of firefighters lined up several bocks, 3-5 rows deep, to honor this man. It was a very emotional moment with the bagpipes playing Amazing Grace and a memorial plaque on the back of an antique fire engine passing by. This was a well-liked person and an honorable firefighter. You knew that by the huge turnout from the FDNY and the community. The church was full, but some of the firefighters were able to stand inside to hear the eulogy for Lt. Nagel. God bless you Lt. Robert Nagel.

After the memorial it was back on the bus to return to our hotel. We were staying at the Hotel Pennsylvania. A big Thank You goes out to Mike Celestino, FS 10-A, for making hotel arrangements. It was very tough to arrange rooms for over 85 firefighters who stayed at the hotel. But again, we made it work.

All of the guys changed out of their dress uniforms and put on our Union Shirts to represent our Local 112 brothers and sisters. We loaded up the buses and headed to a Fireman's Pub called Suspenders, where we were invited to attend a lobster feast put on by the firefighters of Local 94. A nice lady from the community donated 500 Maine lobsters for the firefighters. It was a joyous time to be with other firefighters from all over the world. There were firefighters from Chicago, Australia, Toronto, Mesquite, and also local firefighters from Orange Co. and LA Co. Fire Department.



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The members from Fire Station 10 met up with Captain Paul Mallory. He is the captain for "10 House" (Engine Co. 10 / Ladder Co. 10). 10 House is located in the center of "Ground Zero'. 10 House was across the street from the twin towers. It is still standing and open for business. Capt. Mallory gave us a tour of 10 House and shared his stories and emotions from that tragic day. There was solemn quiet throughout Ground Zero. All you could hear was the noise from the heavy machinery removing huge debris and the bells from the rigs backing up. We talked to a firefighter detailed to stand watch over the deserted firehouse. There are visitors that come in and out of 10 House. He talks to the people and he also monitors and records when they find firefighters within the pile. We listened to his overwhelming stories and shared in his grief. A member of FS 10 gave him his Union Shirt for whatever the reason, it didn't matter. But it brought some type of relief and a smile from this firefighter. And that was why we were there. It was to try and bring some kind of solace for the FDNY Firefighters. We went outside and just stood there and stared at the devastation across the street. Suddenly a yell from a firefighter up the street could be heard throughout. "They found a firefighter!" We quickly ran up the street to form a make shift procession line to pay our respects and to horror this unknown firefighter who gave his life protecting people. There are no words to describe the emotions felt at that moment. All hearts were heavy and tears were in everyone's eyes. That moment hit home for every firefighter that stood at attention watching our brother being carried away.

Sunday, November 18,2001

Today was the day that the FDNY Memorial Service was to held. But it was postponed. So today was the day that the firefighters broke up into their own groups to do what they wanted to do. About half of the group attended a special mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. It was arranged by Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles that the Los Angeles Firefighters have reserved seating inside this beautiful church. It was a very nice service remembering and honoring the people who lost their lives at the World Trade Center.

Members from Fire Station 10

Throughout this trip, I relied on the help and assistance from all of the Fire Hogs. You guys were there when I needed to gather everyone, collect money, buy me a drink, organize events and back me up on decision making and of course, buy me a drink. The members from Fire Station 10 also provided help throughout this whole trip, from the planning stages, hotel and travel accommodations. and event planning. I also want to thank Lane Kemper, an Honorary Fire Hog (he rides a modified Honda-Davidson or a Yama-Davidson), for organizing the check presentation at Firehouse 40. Checks totaling over $2 million were presented to the Widows and Childrens Fund for the FDNY. A big thank you and an atta-boy to all of the charity organizers for a great job they did in raising money for FDNY. The members from FDNY were very grateful for the contributions but were overwhelmed with emotions because of the big turnout of LA firefighters that made the trip.

After the presentation, we herded everyone on the 2 buses to go to a Memorial Service for Lieutenant Nagel in Manhattan. For some reason we ended up with twice as many firefighters after the presentation. We picked up some firefighters from other departments. Thanks for making it work. Jay Freeman took a group from Fire Station 15 to attend a Memorial Service for Firefighter Eric Olsen, in Staten Island. This was very special and personal for the boys from FS 15, because FF Olsen was assigned to Ladder Company 15 of the FDNY.  It was very difficult to travel and attend all of the Memorial Services due to the logistics and locations. We tried to attend as marry services as possible.

The group from LA consisted of many individuals and groups representing their respective stations. Each station group tried to visit their counterparts on the FDNY to pay their respects and trade memorabilia.

Arrangements were made to tour 'Ground Zero". At 2:00, all of the firefighters met at 4/15 House. Somehow the word got out that LAFD firefighters were going to Ground Zero, because firefighters from LA County FD, Venture FD, and even the U.S. Air Force Boxing Team joined us. We had over 100 fire fighters going to Ground Zero. Again, we made it work. Thanks to all of the LAFD firefighters for giving up their seats in the bus and allowing the other firefighters to join us. Your patience and kindness was greatly appreciated.

After a day of mourning, we all headed to a fireman's pub, called Suspenders. This place was OUTSTANDING. This place was filled with firefighters. They were providing a free lobster feast for firefighters.


This was a trip that we will always remember. Everyone that went left a little part of him/herself in New York. That little part was the 'I' and the "Me" that we all possess within ourselves. During the trip, it wasn't about us. It was about our brother firefighters who were killed or were hurt as a result of some terrorist act. Now that we are back in Los Angeles, let's not forget those firefighters who gave it they're all and paid the ultimate sacrifice. It could happen to any of us at any time.

In closing, while in New York, a your firefighter from LAFD referred to the camaraderie and brotherhood displayed by the FDNY.  He asked an off-duty Captain, "This is the way we should be. Why can't we be like this?" And the seasoned off-duty Captain replied. "Why don't you start it."


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