Engine 54/Ladder 4/Battalion 9 in Midtown suffered the greatest loss on September 11th. 15 of its members died that day — more than any other firehouse in the city. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner has the story.
A bell in Midtown rang 15 times early Sunday morning.
No single firehouse was hit harder by the September 11th terror attacks than Engine 54/Ladder 4/Battalion 9.
15 men — everyone working that shift — raced to the World Trade Center and never returned. Among them was 23-year-old Christopher Santora.
"He was in his perfect job, his dream job for nine months, and it was here," said Maureen Santora, Christopher's mother.
Which is why Maureen and other families of the fallen 15 come to the Midtown firehouse each year for a ceremony held in Memorial Park, across the street from the firehouse.
"Coming here is like coming home," Maureen said.
"These are the guys that he worked with. This is his family, as well as mine," said Jean Oitice, who lost her husband on 9/11. "This is where I want to be — with them."
For Maureen Regaglia, the connection continues: her son Lenny died at the World Trade Center.
"And now his youngest brother is a fireman in this same house," Maureen Regaglia said.
Each family places flowers on top of a fountain bearing their loved ones name. But for those who work at Engine 54 or live in the neighborhood, the firehouse itself serves as a memorial.
"It's always a constant reminder when you work in this firehouse and you walk through the front door and see all their faces in the wall," Firefighter Andrew Sforza said.
15 years have passed, and firefighters and the families say the loss never gets easier.
But they say they wouldn't miss the ceremony, which allows them to reconnect — especially for the children who lost their fathers.
"I've seen some of the children who were infants when their fathers perished, and now they are 15, some are in college," said retired FDNY Captain Dag Dorph.
"I look at my daughter who is 30," Jean said. "She's lived half her life now without him, and it's hard."
This year's speaker, Deputy Chief Russ Regan, shared many personal memories of the men he once worked with. He says it's important to continue telling their stories to their children and the world.
"Stories help us connect, keeping their memories alive in our hearts," Regan said.