NEW YORK (CBS 2) – It’s become an annual event, as New York City firefighters spent their Saturday with disabled veterans, helping them prepare for the Tunnel to Towers Run.
Part of their training was to go into a burning building.
Inside a room engulfed in flames and smoke, disabled veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan got a look at what it’s like to be a New York City firefighter.
“These guys risk their lives just as much as we do, so like I say, I have a lot of respect for them,” veteran Luke McDermott said.
Most of the vets inside the FDNY academy, like McDermott, lost both of their legs in either bombings or grenade attacks in Iraq. They’re in town to take part in the Tunnel to Towers Run, a tribute to firefighter Stephen Siller, who was killed on September 11.
“I was only in ninth grade then,” McDermott said. “[9/11] was one of the big reasons I wanted to join.”
New York City firefighters are proud to show the war heroes what their battle zone looks and feels like.
For FDNY Lieutenant Paddy Neville, it’s personal – he served in Iraq.
“I think a lot of us even go through a little bit of guilt that we managed to come back 100 percent and they didn’t,” Lt. Neville said. “We went right, they went left.”
It’s that bond that brought soldiers and firefighters together in that smoky room.
CBS 2’s Christine Sloan geared up to see what the firefighters go through. She went into the smoke-filled room wearing more than 40 pounds of equipment, and it wasn’t easy.
Most firefighters go into a burning building wearing 100 pounds of equipment. For them, the wrong move can make the difference between life and death.
Christine got thrown back turning on the water, but she held on, knowing that everyone along the line depended on her.
“That’s the pressure from the hose line – that’s normal,” Lt. Neville said. “When you were in there, it was dialed down. It’s even worse than that.”
It was tough for Christine in a brief moment during a controlled burn, but for firefighters and soldiers, it’s what they do every day, putting their lives at risk.
“You get injured, and then it’s okay, you just keep going,” Iraq veteran Travis Dodson said.
So, too, does their journey go on, as they prepare for the three-mile trip in honor of a falled comrade.
CBS 2’s coverage of the Tunnel to Towers Run begins Sunday at 11 a.m. Look for live preview reports on CBS 2 News Sunday Morning.