Firehouse That Lost 15 on 9/11 Hosts Mets

September 11, 2013 5:40 am Last Updated: September 11, 2013 4:12 pm

NEW YORK—Firefighter Joe Ceravolo stood in the kitchen of his firehouse on Sept. 10 cutting open the packaging of 10 baseballs.

Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and David Wright, three baseball players from the Mets, would soon sign the baseballs for Ceravolo and the other firefighters at Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9 firehouse on West 48th Street.

The three Mets stars visited the firehouse on the day before Sept. 11 this year to honor the 15 firefighters who lost their lives in 2001.

Harvey, Wheeler, and Wright tried on firefighter jackets and helmets, posed for photos with firefighters in front of a crowd of journalists, and then retired to the kitchen for a private and casual lunch with the crew.

But before all that, a call had come through. Part of the crew had to rush through the crowd of reporters onto the fire truck and drive out past the Times Square crowd.

“It just really makes you think about what these guys do,” Wright said about the call. “We just came out here today to show our appreciation. It’s a cool visit, I think, both for the players and the firefighters.”

As the years have gone by since 9/11, a greater number of young firefighters have begun to work at the firehouse.

“Things have gotten a little better,” said Ceravolo, who has been a firefighter for 23 years. “It’s a new job. A lot of the guys here joined after 9/11. The guys who are left are trying to pass on this mission of not forgetting.”

A backlit board hangs by the entrance of the firehouse with the faces of those who lost their lives on 9/11. For more than a decade the firehouse crew kept their arms open to the families and offered support.

“We keep in contact with them all the time, these 15 families. They know that whatever they need, whenever they need it, they can call here and we’re going to take care of them,” Ceravolo said. “They’re not going to be forgotten—ever.”

On Sept. 11, the families and firefighters will gather for a small memorial service across the street in a park that was donated by the Ritz Hotel nearby. The nation and the world will pause as well to remember the victims. But for the men in this firehouse, remembering is part of the job.

“It’s like working with them every day,” Greg Broms, a firefighter who will celebrate his eighth year on the job on Sept. 25, said while looking at the faces on the board. “Every time I come to work, they’re here.”

Broms didn’t know the firemen on the backlit board when the attacks happened. He was in high school at the time. His father, also a firefighter, lost friends at the Ladder 10, Engine 10 firehouse downtown. By the time both towers collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001, the fire department lost 343 men.

When the Mets players and firefighters posed for photos, the gates of the firehouse rolled up. The crowd scattered as the fire truck returned from the emergency call.

This time it was just burning incense.