Wantagh Fire Department Remembers the 20th Anniversary of 9/11

Jennifer Rosen, Features Editor

At 8:36 AM on September 11, 2001, ABC7 meteorologist Bill Evans was reporting the New York City weather. He told viewers, “It’s 82 degrees in New York and our neighborhood has bright sunshine outside.” As he spoke, the screen panned to the NYC skyline, the bright blue atmosphere standing as an unanimous shade against the Twin Towers. It was the last camera shot ever taken of the standing World Trade Center, exactly 10 minutes before the first plane hit the North Tower.

On September 11, 2021, 20 years later, Wantagh citizens saw a remarkably similar weather forecast with the same blue sky showing not a single cloud. Outside the Wantagh Fire Department Chief’s Office and Training Facility, the American flag, held between two fire truck ladders, displayed its powerful image on Jerusalem Avenue as firefighters and community members waited for the memorial service to honor and commemorate those who died as a result of 9/11.

Gathered around a piece of twisted steel from the Ground Zero sight, Public Information Officer Kevin Regan opened the morning service with a prayer to those who died and to those left with the painful memory of the day’s events. “Lord. Take me back to the days after the 11th of September. Those are the days I wish we all could remember. When temples and churches were filled as we all knelt and prayed. Looking up to heaven with faith in the new day…As we remember the events of September 11th and those who have died, let us try and be more who we were in the days that followed, at least we can try.” 

The service continued with the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance and Christina Regan singing the National Anthem as the members of Wantagh FD saluted. 

Officer Regan continued by commemorating those who died in the line-of-duty. “Firefighter Lee Fehling was always the center of attention as a practical jokester in the firehouse. His ability to successfully plan and execute a prank was rivaled only by his ability to make you laugh… When Lieutenant Kevin Donnelly, or KD as he was affectionately known, joined the Wantagh FD, his great personality brought a new life to Station 2…Timothy Haskell joined the FDNY in 1985 and was assigned to Engine 3. He resigned in 1987 and joined Squad 18 in Manhattan where he spent most of his career.” 

Two other members of the Wantagh FD were commemorated after dying from 9/11-related illnesses. “Robert Nicosia spent countless weeks at Ground Zero searching for survivors. His love for firearms, marksmanship, and tactics made him an asset for law enforcement…Charles Cole Jr. spent countless hours alone in Manhattan as part of the search and recovery effort. He fought his illness till his passing on October 14th, 2011.” Following the recognition of these names, the bell was rung in a 5-5-5 formation in honor of all the firefighters who made the supreme sacrifice followed by a moment of silence in their memory.