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Dedicated to New York’s Bravest

When I heard chirping coming from the hot-wired fire/carbon monoxide alarm in the basement, I didn’t panic.  I figured it was an anomaly caused by the brutally cold temperature and fifty-mile-an-hour winds outside, and I reset the alarm.  However, when it happened again, I grabbed my coat, went outside, and called the fire department.  Within moments, four firefighters were on the scene.  Despite being masked up for Covid-19, I could tell these were fine looking men.  They bounded down to the basement, checked things out with a carbon monoxide meter, and assured me there was no leak.  Then they did a sweep of my whole house.  The conclusion: it was time to replace the basement alarm.  I thanked them profusely and they were on their way.

What can I say about firefighters that hasn’t already been said?  That the hunky firemen stereotype is founded in reality.  That they are superheroes who wear over fifty pounds of gear instead of tights and a cape.  That they risk their lives by running into burning buildings to save total strangers.

I do have something else that needs to be said.

Recently, the term “long haulers” has been given to those who contracted Covid-19 and, months later, suffer lingering health problems.  They are getting much media attention and my sympathy and good wishes go out to them.  But there’s another group of long haulers out there – the firefighters who struggle with lung and cardiovascular disease and battle cancer as a result of their exposure at Ground Zero in the weeks and months following September 11, 2001.  Why no mention of them?  In less than six months, our nation will mark the twentieth anniversary of that horrible day and, along with it, two decades of suffering.

Most New Yorkers could tell you that 343 firefighters perished on September 11th.  But they may not be aware that at least 241 firefighters have since died from illnesses linked to exposure at Ground Zero.  Sadly, dear friends of mine have lost two brothers this way.  One passed away four years ago, the other four weeks ago.  These men were New York’s Bravest, even in the long haul.  They will remain in the hearts of their family, their friends, and their community forever.  And the best way we can honor them is to never forget.

Life Lessons

Breakfast with NYC’s Bravest

The mood in the hotel restaurant was subdued, save for the witty banter taking place at the bar, where I sat with four men to my left, and four more to my right.  You see, a friend was visiting Beantown with “some of the guys” for the Yankees-Red Sox game and we met for breakfast.

I watched in amazement as they devoured large plates of hearty breakfast fare and washed it all down with Bloody Marys and black coffee.  In between talk of sports and politics, and poking fun at the guy who got carried away with his Fitbit, I caught a rare glimpse into the stuff of male friendships.

“How long have you guys been together?” I asked.  “Eight years.”  “Eleven years.”  “Thirteen years,” they were all chiming in.  One of them patted my friend’s shoulder declaring, “I’d do anything for this guy…”  Their ages ranged from barely-thirty to mid-fifties, but these were no ordinary men and theirs were no ordinary friendships.  Because they were firefighters.  New York City’s Bravest.  I’d heard about the brotherhood of firefighters, but I’d never seen it up close before.


When the bartender presented the bill, one of the guys called out, “Credit card roulette!” and took off his baseball cap, then pointing to me, clarified, “But she’s not in it.”  Each of them took a credit card from his wallet and placed it in the hat.  The fellow next to me explained the rules.  A stranger – always a woman, preferably a hot woman – would be asked to pick the credit cards, one by one, and call out the names.  The final credit card would be used to cover the entire bill.  This is so NOT how women divide a check, I thought.


As we said good bye, I thought about their selflessness and their character, the extraordinary work they do, and the bond they share.  I was in awe of them.  NYC’s Bravest – thank you for your service, and thanks for poppy