Gerald "Jerry" Sanford: Retired FDNY Firefighter, Author of It Started With a Helmet, 9/11 Press Secretary


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A black leather helmet.
Not just any helmet.
A circa 1914 FDNY helmet found in Naples, Florida, originating from Ladder 42 in The Bronx, New York.
In this week’s episode, Jerry Stanford, FDNY veteran, details his adventure in returning that incredible helmet – and presenting it back to Ladder 42 in The Bronx on September 10, 2001 - the day before the attacks of 9/11.
Jerry returned to service as a volunteer after the attacks on the World Trade center and authored the book: It Started with a Helmet.
You’ll appreciate Jerry’s compelling story, and his straightforward personality as he details the path of the helmet from Naples to The Bronx.

In this episode you will hear:

• We flew out from La Guardia Airport 2 hours before the attacks. I could’ve been on one of those hijacked planes.

• Everyone’s running out of the buildings while we were running into the building.

• We lost 343 Firefighters from all ranks. With all those years of experience gone, it was difficult to fill those voids.

• After 10-12 days, it changed from a rescue mission to a recovery mission.

• The jet fuel kept the fires burning.

• On September 12, 2001, we were all New Yorkers.

• You couldn’t buy a flag.

• The government officials told us that it was fine to be in the area with no masks or breathing gear. 6 years later, I was diagnosed with lung cancer, as were many others.

• Back then, I could go to the World Trade Center site, and any hour of the day or night. People were cheering us on.

• Now they want to cut back funding for police, while they have private security. That’s crazy.

• Life is so different now. We have to adapt to it.
• We were taken aback at the difference in two or three years in New York City.

• In Afghanistan, the Taliban has taken over in three short weeks. What the hell is going on there?

• We let the fox back into the hen house.

• What happened to our leadership?

• If you need to talk to somebody, please do it. Don’t do anything drastic. A lot of departments have mental health people that are there to help you.

• It doesn’t cost anything to be nice to people.
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