9/11 through the Eyes of a Rookie Firefighter

Guest Post from Probationary

Firefighter Matt Barnes


I just walked into the lounge area of the Union at Kentucky State University. I had a few minutes in between classes and everyone was either watching television, studying or taking a nap. I had not decided what I was going to do first since I had maybe 15 minutes before my next class. I decided to watch the T.V. for a bit. Then all of a sudden, the program we were watching was interrupted. They kept showing these planes crashing into the World Trade buildings. First, I thought it was a joke. Could not be, but then they were talking about the planes being hijacked, maybe terrorists.


That’s 11 years ago my sophomore year. Fast forward to 2012.I’ve been a member of my department since March. We are a volunteer and don’t get many fire calls. However, I have friends and mentors from other departments in other states. We have tried to imagine what the 343 went through. To knowingly go into a situation where the odds of you coming out alive are slim, is insane to some. But to those brave men and women, it’s a part of what makes them heroes and heroines .When we talk, we try to half-way imagine what it was like to walk up several flights of stairs.

The shape they had to be in. Not only did they have on their bunker gear, but a tool in one hand, an extra cylinder in the other and High rise packs. Just imagine the situation they went into and what they saw. What they encountered was unthinkable, unimaginable. There is no true way to show our gratitude for what they did but for the stair climb alone.

Unfortunately, I was unable to do the stair climb this year, but I have heard the atmosphere is full of emotions. To recall the 343 climbing those stairs fully bunkered up and entering an IDLH situation relying on pre-incident planning, training and faith. That’s what being a hero is about. I pray that we as Americans never have to deal with that again. But if we do, what do you think you would do? No matter your answer, let’s not only honor the fallen 343 that place their lives on the line, but let’s learn from the situation.


Rookies, let’s take the initiative to familiarize ourselves with pre-incident planning. Have your officer go over the same situation as if it were in your city.


Let’s never forget, but let’s prepare and remember Everyone Goes Home.

Matt Barnes

Celina (TX) Fire Department