Beautiful tribute: How an FDNY chief remembers 19 colleagues killed on 9/11

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NEW YORK — FDNY Chief Nick DelRe's unit lost 19 members in the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

"It's a tremendous part of my life," he said.

Fourteen years have passed since 9/11 attacks and a man who rose up in the ranks during his 30-year career with the department is now pausing, reflecting and remembering.

“I was home watching a 3- and 6-year-old son," he recalled. "I dropped my 6-year-old off at first grade and figured out a way to get [my 3-year-old] back to my wife so I could come in and help.”

As every firefighter was asked to do, he rushed in, not knowing if he would get home to his family.

When asked if each new anniversary gets easier than the last as time goes on, he said "easy" isn't the word for it.

"Not easier," he said. "Really, you try not to think about it. I try to be a positive person, and certainly remember the losses."

He carries the memories of those lost with him every day,

“I wear this bracelet of members I worked with who were all killed on Sept.  11," he said while showing the bracelet. "And as we get busy doing our daily operations, you just need to once in a while focus and put things in perspective.”

DelRe now runs HazMat operations.

He tries to do his part in carrying on the legacy.

“This is a window from FDNY's HazMat 1 apparatus that was at the World Trade Center," he said in the hallway of the FDNY training offices. "We memorialized it by putting the names of the 19 members of Hazmat 1 and Squad 288 who were killed at the traded centers that day.”

Chief John 'Jack' Fanning who lost his life on Sept. 11

Chief John 'Jack' Fanning who lost his life on Sept. 11, 2001.

Of those 19 members who perished was Chief Jack Fanning, who was in charge of the HazMat team.

“Tremendous, forward-looking, proactive member looking to prepare members of the FDNY for terrorist events,” DelRe said of his fallen colleague.

PIX11 News found video of Manning testifying before Congress in May 2001 about potential terrorist attacks.

"The effective resolution of a WMD event will involve all of our efforts,” Fanning said in an archived C-SPAN video. “If lives are to be saved and suffering reduced, it will be up to them to do it.”

His name still remains on the doors, but as a look to the future of how Fanning laid the groundwork for the men and women who would serve after him.

When asked if the Fire Department of New York has changed and grown since 9/11, Fanning replied with "phenomenally."

"The Department is the best fire department in this country, in the world, no doubt," he said.

Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi