How the Madison Fire Department Has Changed Since 9/11
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 • 6:42pm
MADISON, NJ - On the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 a week ago, the nation paused to remember those who perished. While it was the worst day in American history, it also changed the police and fire departments in the tri-state area greatly.
Madison Fire Chief Lou DeRosa told TheAlternativePress.com things are definitely not the same as they were when he started 35 years ago. The biggest difference before 9/11 and after is there is a greater possibility he may not go home, the chief said.
Today, a minor incident could be everyone’s worst nightmare, he said. DeRosa explained, terrorists aren’t just aiming to kill civilians, but are trying to take out the first responders as well, which is scary.
“Your antennas are up a lot more,” DeRosa said. “You’re looking for things you couldn’t even imagine. It’s always in the back of your mind and you hope it never happens.”
Consequently, he and his staff, which is made up of volunteers and full-time firefighters, have taken several anti-terrorism courses over the past 11 years. Ultimately, it’s been a real culture shock, he said.
They were educated on potential hazards and learned that what might have been assumed minor or inconsequential before 9/11 is always investigated now. The phrase “if you see something, say something” has become a vital part of today’s society as well, he said.
Prior to 9/11, DeRosa said the U.S. was thought of as the “good guys” and no one ever imagined an attack like that would ever take place. Unfortunately, the country now knows the potential for this does exist, he said.
DeRosa said it’s definitely a different world, but he has never once thought about retiring. Yes, he and his staff are much more cautious and diligent in everything they do, but Sept.11 did not and will not cause him to live in fear, he emphasized.
“You’re not going to stop myself or my colleagues from doing our job because of a threat and I say that with good confidence,” DeRosa said.
While the department does not have any new equipment or staff, DeRosa feels they are better prepared than they were 11 years ago. Because they are a lot of crazy people in the world, “the best offense is a good defense,” he said.
“I think the fire service is better aware,” the chief said. “If we don’t stop them they’re going to come after us,” he said. “They proved that on 9/11.”
Looking into the future, DeRosa feels the community is in a good place and the fire department and the residents have a good relationship
DeRosa, who was part of the state’s first responder unit on Sept.11, said after being part of the rescue team that day, he received accolades and gratitude from numerous people, but today it is quite different, he said. He doesn’t believe people have forgotten or aren’t grateful, but time has passed and things will never be the same, DeRosa said.