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True Firefighter Stories

"Courage is the ability to move; when all around you are frozen in fear
and no one would blame you if you did nothing at all." Capt. Click. Phx. PD

My Name is Brian Tate

I am an LDS convert still in my infancy, married with ten children
 (sounds like a Mormon).

I have been a Firefighter Paramedic for the past 13 years and I am currently a Lieutenant with Gila River Fire Department. The job of firefighter has changed in the past ten years; we have been called to perform so much more that Fire Fighting, now Advanced Life Support, Fire Prevention, Code Enforcement, Hazardous Materials release, Public Education, Crisis Intervention, to preparing for Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorist events are now all part of being a firefighter.

The Fire Service is the most unique environment I have ever been associated with, a true family my brothers and sisters of the fire service are as close as any member of my family in that I would put my life on the line for each of them. Moreover we take care of each other in every way, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If someone has a project going on roofing a house, laying grass, concrete you can bet a large representation of brothers to show up.

                I was never able to appreciate the similarities of the Fire Service
                              and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
                                                        until the terrorist events of 9-11.

Everyone in America can recall their first reaction and where they were when the first plane flew into the World Trade Center Tower 1, and every moment after when the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania farm field erupted in flames. As we watched military jets guarded the White House, thousands of people flee from Manhattan and we saw our FDNY brothers rush to save hundreds who entered the towers, we felt a moment of helplessness and insecurity.

In the days that followed 9-11 every Firefighter I knew had a burning desire to go to the disaster sights and lend any help they could. It was on 9-13-01 when I was asked to go to New York as a member of the Disaster Relief Team. At that time my wife was 8 Ĺ months pregnant with a high risk of pre-term labor.

                 When I first discussed with my wife the possibility of going to New York
          she didnít even let me finish my sentence, she insistently responded,
                                                            "You Need To Go".

In the hours that followed we discussed the pros and cons in detail and after earnest prayer, my wife told me again that everything will be fine, insisting her visiting teachers will help her with everything and saying again, "You need to go." The next morning I felt calm, peaceful and assured that everything would be fine and that I needed to go. On 9-17-01 we were onboard one of the first airplanes to return to the skies with four other Firefighters.

                      Shortly after take off the flight attendant announced
                                that they had five firefighters aboard
                                         and we were going to help our FDNY brothers.

                  The plane with only 57 passengers erupted in cheers and applause.

As we descended into New York, it wasnít long before we could see the smoke rising from Manhattan and instantly a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as we flew closer and saw the empty skyline where the towers once filled.

After checking in at an empty hotel we walked twenty blocks to "Ground Zero". It was an eerie feeling to see empty shops and buildings covered in gray powder and complete silence. Once at ground zero you couldnít begin to imagine the devastation of the events. The color was gray everything and everybody, cars, fire trucks, buildings, ground, bulldozers all gray. The smell of ground zero was so strong it pierced every pore of my body, pungent from burning jet fuel, decaying bodies, and everything you might find in a 210-story building.

The looks on the faces of Firefighter and Officers were sobering, blank without expression. I spoke to several of them who said they had not been home, rotating from fire station to ground zero and back again. Most of them with families who felt they just couldnít leave someone behind.

We in the Fire Service have a Cardinal Rule that "Everyone Comes Home"

As one FDNY Lieutenant stated, "Our brothers are in a tomb of steel, concrete and rubble. Their families are counting on us. It just doesnít feel right to go home." Our primary goal was to assist in staffing the surrounding Fire Houses and provide Crisis Counseling to FDNY members. I was fortunate enough to have counseled numerous Firefighters. For some it had been the first time they had talked about the event. Nearly every firefighter I spoke with suffered with survivor guilt, but none more than a Firefighter I will call Mike. In a Fire House quietly sat a young man 33 years old who after nearly a week of silence decided to talk to me. Mike sitting at the table with a shaky voice began to tell his story.

He said that on the morning of 9-11 he was assigned to an engine company as a Firefighter (sitting backwards) and the Chauffer (the driver) offered to let him drive the engine that day. It was just after nine oíclock when the first call came in and the engine was dispatched. Once on scene, Mike now acting as the Chauffer, parked the truck and watched his crew strip the truck of axes, hose, nozzles, air bottles and make their way to the top of World Trade Center Tower 1, while Mike stayed with the engine. It was less than one hour before Mike watched the tower collapse right before his eyes. Listening to Mike talk I could tell that he was suffering, he broke down, tears forcing down his cheek as he said,

                            "I am No Body, I have No family, No wife, No kids,
                                              No Church, No baseball to coach.

                                      My Chauffer had everything.
                         He had four sisters, two brothers, a wife with three kids,
                                           coached little league, and a Church leader.
                                                            Everyone will miss him.

                                                     It should have been me."

It was hard to remain emotionally intact, I managed to say a silent prayer and the only thing that came to mind was to reach out to him. I put my arm around him and sat quietly saying nothing. Minutes passed before I was able to speak and I just said, "It is not your fault Ė Mike. It is not your fault." It seems like such a simple thing but it was just what he needed to hear. Overflowing with tears he replied, "Those guys just donít know how much I love them." I said, "Mike would you let me say a prayer for you?" He quickly replied, "Yes." It was an unusual sight to see two Firemen praying at the kitchen table but within seconds, the entire crew joined us without saying a word.

                The Holy Spirit was present and directed my every word;
                         it was such a powerful experience like asking Heavenly Father
                                                  to fill my heart for the first time.

I was able to appreciate how important the Fire Service family can be. With the support of his brothers he entered counseling and returned to work. The families of every missing FDNY member was assigned two firefighters to assist them with everything from groceries, pick up kids from sports, paying bills to arranging life insurance benefits. It was wonderful to see how quickly the Fire Service family came together supporting each other. I was surprised how similar the Fire Service mimicked The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, home teachers. It made me feel grateful that I was a member knowing that my family was being taken care of in Christís love.

                            I testify Christís church has been restored;
           I testify that through the Holy Spirit that all things can be achieved.
              We are all children of God and should above all things support each other
                                                       and "Perfect the Saints".

                I think about that as I walk from class to Priesthood meeting.
                       As I pass new members in the hall, those I used to pass by,
                                 I now stop and introduce myself.                                         

                                 Take a chance it will positively impact your life.

In Jesus name, Amen.

                                                  Lieutenant Brian Tate,


If you are or were a police officer, soldier, fireman
or wife, mother, father of such or some other branch of emergency personnel
and would like to share an unusual testimony building experience with others,
please contact us for details at

or use the link on the front page of this site at

Thank you and God bless,


"Think About it..." mailed to your home for only $14.95   S&H included

Read "Think About it..." Online Warrior Stories  | Excerpts | News Articles | Poems
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