9/11 attacks: I’m not a hero - New York Firefighter pays tributes to the victims and thanks Birmingham for its support

Former New York City Firefighter Andy Horan led clean up operations at Ground Zero - he pays tribute to the people of Birmingham for the help they gave FDNY in the aftermath of the terror attacks

He lost 40 loved ones on that terrible day that changed the world - and led clean up operations at Ground Zero in the aftermath.

But former New York City Firefighter Andy Horan does not see himself as a hero.

Instead he pays tribute to “the ones who didn’t come home”.

Andy also praises the people of Birmingham who showed their support for FDNY, raising £240,000 in a campaign led by West Midlands firefighter Paul Smith.

“What happened was the worst and the best - I know everybody has heard that before, but it really was the worst thing that could happen, and some really good things happened,” Andy told BirminghamWorld.

“People from all over the world stepped up and did the kind, right thing, and I like to think that’s how people are.”

There were 2,977 innocent people who lost their lives as Al Quaeda suicide bombers struck America’s iconic landmarks.

The dead included 343 firefighters who courageously fought the inferno to save as many lives as they could - despite having no knowledge or experience of an atrocity of this magnitude.

Andy and fellow firefighters Mark Jarmek, Gregg Straub and Jimmy Bevers travelled to Birmingham to personally thank the city for the support it gave to New York.

They were invited by the then Lord Mayor Cllr Jim Whorwood, who travelled to NYC to present the firefighters with the check, along with the West Midlands Chief Fire Officer of the time, Ken Knight in 2002.

Andy said: “We love Birmingham because of the people. We’ve met the best people in the world there.

“We lost some very good people that day. I personally lost 40 people that I knew. It was a terrible experience. But a lot of positive things came out of that day. Things that we’ll never forget. Things that carry you through that.”

New York Firefighters visit Birmingham and attend the St Patrick’s Day Festival

Andy is set to visit Birmingham again.

He and his family have become firm friends with Paul, his wife Maggie, and their children - with Andy being godson to their son Joseph.

“We’re like brothers - Paul and I,” said Andy.

“My three kids told me to make sure that I mention how much they love him before I came on this call.

“Paul and I have met in Spain, we’ve met in the States several times and we’ve met in Dublin. We were in Kerry too. Paul’s son, Joseph, is my godson.

“He’s received several honours and they’re all well deserved. Paul is a very dedicated, hard working fireman. He’s going to retire soon, and my whole family are going to make the trip to his retirement party.”

Paul (middle left) Andy and Paul’s two son’s Joseph and Michael at the top of the Freedom Tower (One World Trade Centre) in 2018

One of Paul’s greatest acknowledgements was to be made an honourary member of FDNY. He was presented with a plaque which read: “For your tireless efforts during our time of great need we hearby declare you F.F. 1st Paul Smith Vinegar Hill Gang of Engine 80/ Ladder 23. Honorary Member.”

The inscription above reads: “In creating the Friends of FDNY 9 /11 you have exhibited the highest standards of humanity and compassion having forged a lasting bond between the firefighters of FDNY and West Midlands Fire Service.”