Former FDNY battalion chief recounts 9/11 in new book

Remembering 9/11

NEW YORK — There were scores of first responders who rushed into danger on Sept. 11.

Among them, retired FDNY battalion chief Joseph Pfeifer.

He was the first and highest-ranking officer to arrive at ground zero that day.

He had to make some tough decisions that impacted his own family, and he’s recounting those harrowing moments in a new book.

He spoke with PIX11 and shared his memories from that day and what has happened in the last 20 years. 

“All of a sudden, I heard a loud noise of a plane coming overhead,” Pfeifer said. “It disappeared behind some buildings, and then I saw the plane aim and crash into the World Trade Center.”

The former battalion chief said it was hard for him to stay calm, but he slowed his thinking down and thought about what he had to do next.

“I wanted my firefighters to know this was not an accident,” Pfeifer said.

His brother, Kevin Pfeifer, was also working that day and reported to him. The two just stood there before Joseph Pfeifer sent him up to the towers to help rescue people.

“That was the last time I saw my brother and Engine 33,” Pfeifer said.

He also recalled the moment crews recovered his body. 

He recalls these moments and more in his new book “Ordinary Heroes: A Memoir of 9/11.”

“It just made sense to use the title ‘ordinary heroes’ because that’s what I think of them everytime I come down here to the memorial site,” Pfeifer said.

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