Chicago firefighter reflects on helping with 9/11 aftermath


CHICAGO — Twenty-one years ago, Chicago-area firefighters headed to New York to help, following the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

Chicago Fire Department battalion chief Brian McArdle still recalls where he was and the exact time when the twin towers were hit. 

 “We were watching live on TV — like many people were — when the first plane hit … then when the second plane hit, we started thinking, okay, it might be bigger than an accident,” McArdle said.

Brian McArdle was at the beginning of his career with about 5 years on the job when the Sept. 11 attacks happened. 

“I just had this feeling we gotta go help,” McArdle said

He joined firefighters from Chicago and surrounding suburbs who rushed to New York City, spending several days supporting first responders 

“When you first got there, it was like, ‘I can’t believe a 200 story building [fell to] the ground.‘ It was a little overwhelming being a young guy, but I followed the guys that had the time, the experience.”

Chief McArdle said it’s one of those learning experiences that has always stayed with him, and the memories are ones that will never leave him.

“It’s something you keep in the back of [your] mind all the time,” McArdle said. “You learn from being there.”

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