Updated 09/11/2011 03:19 PM
Brooklyn Firehouse Remembers Lives Lost, Families Gained
Sunday was a day of mourning but also a celebration of life at one Brooklyn firehouse that lost five of its members on September 11th. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
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Firefighter Sean Halpern was the driver for Red Hook's Engine 279 on September 11, 2001, and the only one in his company to survive.
"I had the survivor's guilt," Halpern said.
The five firefighters he traveled with were all killed at the World Trade Center. They were firefighters Anthony Rodriguez, Michael Ragusa, Ronnie Henderson, Christian Regenhard and Lieutenant Anthony Jovic.
None of their remains were found.
On each anniversary, their families come back to the firehouse for a memorial service.
"This is home. This is where he was. The firefighters are great. Especially Kevin Dillon. He was at our side every day, every day. He was the one assigned to our family. I just saw him. We cried. We just held each and just cried," said Brunilda Rodriguez, whose son was killed in the attacks.
The firehouse is home to both Engine 279 and Ladder 131. Both responded to the World Trade Center.
While Engine 279 was damaged, Ladder 131 managed to escape.
"I ran into them and I was happy to see them but I pretty much knew, well I had a feeling that my guys were gone," Halpern said.
"I think a lot of guys started to realize although they didn't want to admit it to themselves that there were going to very few people if anybody left alive. It was a tough thing," said firefighter Gerry Sweeney.
The five killed from the firehouse are memorialized on the walls and on the rigs. Their jackets hang from the ceiling.
"The amount of men that were lost. The experience that was lost. It changed the dynamic of nearly every firehouse on the job," said Sweeney. "And if you went through it whether you were a fireman or a police officer or a civilian...any occupation. If you were a New Yorker I think it changed you forever."
Firefighters at Engine 279 and Ladder 131 say they remember their fallen brothers not only on the tenth anniversary, but every day.