I’m actually posting this installment from NJ. Rhett and I have been between NJ and New York City for the past several days. We’ve been up here with our good friend from Fox Fire Zach Green.
It’s been a ton of work and a hectic schedule but we are also having a blast. This is basically a work trip for us. I will be assisting Rhett while he teaches his “Social Media” class in New Jersey. He is teaching through Kean University for the 2nd time …. a great class if you ever get the chance to catch it.
We are also doing a little leg work for Zach and Fox Fire. This has allowed us to visit a few of the elite companies of the FDNY.
We started out at Rescue Company #4 in Queens ( Wednesday).
Rescue 4 is a GREAT house!
Back in “the day”, I (and good friend / brother Captain Todd Stone) would go up and ride at R4. That was an awesome experience. I haven’t been to or rode a rig in New York since 2002. It felt great to be back in a FDNY house.
The Brothers of R4 were very welcoming. They opened the house and treated us very well. This was Rhett and Zach’s first visit to a Rescue Company in FDNY. They were very impressed.
After leaving our Brothers in Queens, we headed into Manhattan. Our first stop was Times Square and then down to Ground Zero and the Freedom Tower . It was unbelievable to see at night!
We ended up at FDNY’s Ten House ….Engine 10 / Truck 10 … this was another AWESOME visit. For those of you who don’t know, 10 House is located right at Ground Zero.
I’d say Truck 10 is one of the most recognizable post - 9/11 Ladders in the City ( in my opinion ). I’d say most of you have seen the American flag and 9/11 photo on the side. Their previous rig was destroyed during the attacks. They were able to recover one of the doors and now have it displayed in a memorial inside the house…. a VERY emotional display!
You also have to understand that due to their location, this House is FLOODED with visitors / guest. I’m sure the last thing these guys wanted to see was the 3 of us rolling in. We would have never known that by their reactions. Just like at Rescue 4, we were welcomed with open arms.
These Brothers opened their doors and made us feel right at home. It’s an awesome feeling to know that you can walk into a firehouse anywhere in the Country and be taken care of …. BROTHERHOOD !
After our visit at Ten House, we had to choose between eating or catching a Broadway show. Remember now that Rhett and I have been on the road since 5 am that morning and had only stopped long enough for a pack of nabs and a cold beer. I was about to STARVE.
This trip would be no exception…. we chose Ben Benson’s Steakhouse .
OMG!!! What a great steak!
Nothing says “a good time” like sharing 10lbs of beef and a bottle of good wine with friends.
I gotta say … it’s nice to sit down at a fancy restaurant every now and again. This place was way out of my league ( that’s why I was drinking wine .. they didn’t have Old Milwaukee ..LOL ) but I don’t think anyone noticed. Bottom line, it was a great cap off to our first day in NYC.
We also found time to hang out with that Occupy Wall Street thing ..?!?
Yea.. while out walking we stumbled upon a tent city full of …. ummmm …errrrrrr …. well, it was crowded.
Come to find out, we were smack in the middle of the occupy Wall Street thing…
Next thing we know, there is a mob marching down the street, riot police and helicopter hovering above our heads.
Rhett and Zach fit right in … before I knew it, they were holding hands with some long haired dude singing Kumbaya! LOL
So, after that; we headed to our hotel for a quick night cap before I tucked Rhett in for the night. We would have another long day Thursday.
Rhett was on the road at 5am heading down to Jersey for his first class. I would hang in the City with Zach while we finished up a little work and some more networking. We started our day out back at Ten House before heading up to Rescue 1 .
I have posted here numerous times on doing the NFFF 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs. I have always climbed in honor and memory of Joseph Angelini (Sr). “Joey” was assigned to Rescue 1 and I am lucky (and honored) to have not only met and knew him … I RODE WITH HIM ON RESCUE 1 !!
Of course every firehouse in the FDNY has some type of memorial, but Rescue 1 had Joey everywhere. If you double click the picture left, you’ll notice him in the upper / left row of pictures. Anyway, it was difficult for me, but I kept my composure. We were once again welcomed with open arms!
A GREAT GUY …. we hit it off right from the start! ( it’s a mustache thing ).
It was almost like we were part of the company and we never even spoke of my previous year’s rides with Rescue 1. They had a visit from a Chief, a tour with a couple of kids and even conducted a in house drill. I had told the Lt. that if things got too busy or crowded, we could slip away somewhere and return later …. He wouldn’t hear of it.
So, we got to hang out through it all.” The Lou” even gave me a special tour of the house and shared some personal pictures / stories … I was HONORED.
I didn’t think we would be able to top that visit … the day only got better. We had reached out to good friend, Brother and Fire Service Leader Chief Billy Goldfeder (that’s another mustache thing). Chief Billy set us up in a way that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to repay.
He sat us up for a tour of the WTC Tribute Center . Not just any tour mind you … this was set up by Chief Billy Goldfeder … we had a PRIVATE tour. Think that sounds cool ??? What would you think if I told you that the founder himself gave us the tour? Yea … Lee Ielpi himself gave us a personal tour!
I had heard the name but it never really registered until I met him. Lee was retired from Rescue 2 (Brooklyn) at the time of the attacks. His son however was on the job. Lee’s son was murdered that day along with 342 more of our brothers. Lee headed straight down to Ground Zero that day and hasn’t left yet. Here’s a short video..
Words can’t describe the emotions of this tour. For whatever reason, Lee and I seemed to “connect” from the beginning. We cried together that day and I will never forget the time we spent together. I will post a TON more on Lee and the WTC Tribute Center in the very near future. He made a huge impression and has motivated me to become a part of his battle.
It’s located within it’s own building and tells the story of 9/11 through several perspectives. They have some remarkable displays and do a fantastic job of telling the story.
The tour continues outside (across the street) to the site of the Reflecting Pools and Freedom Tower.
The site is still under construction (obviously) but is also a MUST SEE . We were there in the pouring rain yet found it difficult to leave knowing that we hadn’t see it all … another emotional visit.
Needless to say, the next few hours were spent quietly … reflecting.
SPECIAL THANKS TO CHIEF BILLY GOLDFEDER FOR GIVING ME THIS EXPERIENCE!
Captain Liam Flaherty and his crew also opened their house to make us feel at home.
We shared some great conversation around their kitchen table while watching the Rangers game. I had been to R2 before but have never ridden. I had also meet Captain Flaherty before while at Firehouse Expo in Baltimore, Md. earlier this year ( see that post and pictures again by clicking HERE )
We were all beat by this time and once again headed back to our hotel for a few hours sleep.
This morning, Rhett and I loaded up and headed back down to Jersey for a 2nd day of teaching Social Media. Zach will catch a flight back to Ohio around mid day. I have a lot more info to share with you about our trip but I’ll save that for posts later this week.
As soon as we finish up class, Rhett and I will be back on the road and headed home. Rhett works tomorrow and I’ll return to duty on Sunday. Special thanks as well to Roanoke Brothers Lt. Barry Ferguson, Lt Chuck Sharp and Captain Craig Sellers for covering my shifts Wednesday and Friday.
I’ll give ya more in the next day or so … until I get back, Stay Safe and in House!