In honor of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, The team at the Firefighters Podcast wanted to pay tribute to the victims and honor the survivors with a special dedicated episode.
My guest today is retired FDNY firefighter Gerald “Jerry” Sanford has published his new book “It Started with a Helmet: A Retired Firefighter’s Return to New York City the Day Before 9/11,” which shares his gripping true account while volunteering with the FDNY during the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks.
The book reflects on Sanford’s 29-year career with the FDNY after which he retired and moved to Naples, Fla.
However, the retirement was short-lived, and he began working for the North Naples Fire Control and Rescue District where he came across an early 1900s antique leather fire helmet that originated from a firehouse in the Bronx.
Sanford coordinated a presentation ceremony, scheduled for Sept. 10, 2001, to return the historic keepsake to Ladder 42. Unfortunately, many of the people who attended tragically died the next day including Father Judge and the chief of the department, Pete Ganci.
With the city in ruins and the fire department in disarray after losing 343 brave men, Sanford volunteered to serve the FDNY in one of his former roles as press secretary and got to work on the grim tasks of planning and attending funerals for his friends and brothers while also trying to organize the chaos.
Sanford’s book also shares his experience battling lung cancer – an aftereffect many surviving 9/11 first responders have battled– as well as his continuing work to honor those who died by helping to establish the Freedom Memorial in Naples, Fla.
It is a pleasure to be able to share Jerry's story and we hope you are able to reflect, pay tribute in your own way and continue to support our front-line workers who train every day to deal with these disasters.
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