Al F. was born in Guayaquil, Equidor in 1951. He emigrated to New York in 1960, he started in the 3rd grade and spoke no English.
He was appointed to the New York City Fire Department in 1977 and assigned to Engine 1 in midtown Manhattan. He transferred to Ladder 24 and then Rescue 1 both in Manhattan. In 1986 he was promoted to Lieutenant and then assigned to Rescue 2 in Brooklyn (arguably the busiest fire company in the world). In 1996 Al was promoted to Captain and was assigned as the executive officer of the Marine Division, he was working in this position on the morning of September 11, 2001.
On 9-11 Al was working to rescue people after the 1st collapse of the South Tower in the World Trade Center and was caught in the 2nd collapse of the North Tower. He was buried for a little under one hour, then rescued and taken to Jersey City Medical Center, where he spent 10 days in a coma.
Prior to 9-11 Al was involved in the Federal Emergency Management Association. As part of FEMA, he responded to the Okalahoma City bombing and other building collapses and hurricanes around the world. He was decorated 11 times by the F.D.N.Y.
After his long healing process and being retired by the FDNY, he felt it was time to give back to society. He started a not-for-profit 501 c3 organization called the Patriot Group.
The first seminar was held in Dublin, Ireland and all the proceeds went to the Children's Burn Unit in Crumlin Hospital, Dublin. During the planning of this seminar, Fire officer Joe McCloskey from Dungiven in Northern Ireland was killed while fighting a hotel fire in Livady. Extra funds were raised for Joe's family.
Al was married in 1979 to his wife Eileen and they have three children, Matt, Caitlin and Elizabeth. Al has worked hard his whole life starting with being a non-English speaking immigrant to working his way up through the ranks of the Fire Department. He has written a book about his experiences and is donating most of the proceeds to the Patriot Group.
I am writing this story about Al because I was also involved in 9-11 and through his persistence I became part of the Patriot Group and this gave me a new purpose for my life. The Foundation for Better Life uses my picture - I am the Firefighter on the billboard under courage.
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