Ten years after 9/11, the life of a firefighter is in no doubt different, but according to Jim McCaffrey, an active firefighter for the past 26 years, the biggest change in the job comes in the mentality and thought process. McCaffrey was one of thousands of police officers and firefighters who responded to Ground Zero that day.
McCaffrey said the attacks were the first time the concept of terrorism was introduced as a possible threat.
“Terrorism wasn’t talked about,” he said. “Prior to 9/11 you would train for every eventuality you can think of, but no one ever envisioned planes crashing to the towers.”
McCaffrey, who lost his brother-in-law Orio Palmer that day, explained that before the attacks, firefighters trained and prepared for incidents such as a major subway crash or a large scale building collapse.
“Now we try to be more proactive because people are intentionally trying to do damage to the city,” he said.
Terrorism forced firefighters to approach any small-scale incident as a potential threat for something bigger.
“The mode of thinking has changed in a way that wasn’t prevalent in the past,” he said. “Now you always wonder if there’s more than meets the eye.”