In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, a team of 23 Seattle firefighters flew to New York City and Washington, D.C. to join the search for survivors. About half are still in the department today.
On Wednesday, the Seattle Fire and Police departments held a joint commemoration at the Seattle Center to acknowledge the lives lost and the impact of the attacks on their profession.
“I think it really changed the culture of our profession,” Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins said. “It was a hard day, but it helped us take a little more pride [in what we do].”
Scoggins was joined by nearly 100 people, including Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best on the Memorial Garden lawn for the somber ceremony. Among them were members of the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League and the Idris Mosque in Seattle.
“It was here where many from Seattle gathered in those days, as we were fearful, uncertain,” Durkan said, referring to a ceremony held at Seattle Center a day after the terrorist attacks. “And yet we needed each other to remain hopeful.”
Behind her were the flags of the Seattle fire and police departments, adorned with ribbons of those who died in the line of duty, including the four firefighters who were killed in the Pang warehouse fire in 1995.
“We must continue to reflect and remember the lives that were taken,” Durkan said. “The courage [first responders] had to literally run into burning buildings to save peoples lives.”
One of those first responders was Sgt. Timothy Roy with the New York Police Department, whose daughter, Brittany Roy, became a Seattle police officer herself after his death during the 9/11 attacks. Best acknowledged her during her speech.
Members of the fire department still feel the pain of the loss of so many colleagues in New York, Scoggins said. The fire departments from both cities work closely to train, and colleagues develop close bonds with each other.
“I have a team going back to New York in the next couple of months to learn some of their training techniques to bring back to Seattle,” Scoggins said. “So there are a lot of relationships there.”