Bronze relief in New York City commemorates firefighters' sacrifices

Copyright 2006 Newsday, Inc.

Newsday (New York)

Fire Engine Company 10 and Ladder 10 in lower Manhattan sent the first firefighters to respond to the World Trade Center attack. They lost five members on that tragic day, and their station house was severely damaged.

It seemed their world could never be repaired, but life has a way of asserting itself.

The firehouse reopened in 2003 after a $3.5 million renovation that included the installation of a better air conditioning system, better plumbing and a bigger kitchen. And now, affixed to the station's western wall, directly across from the Ground Zero construction site, is the first memorial to the 343 firefighters killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

The 6-foot-tall, 56-foot-long, 7,000-pound cast-bronze relief memorial will be unveiled Saturday with some of the firefighters' families and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in attendance.

The relief features 46 figures with the Twin Towers at the center. One tower is on fire, and one firefighter sits with his face in his hands, his helmet off.

The 343 names are inscribed in alphabetical order by the firefighter's rank and includes each member's company. Along the monument's base is a timeline of the major events of 9/11.

"We feel that it [the memorial] honors and represents what the members of the fire department did on September 11," said Fire Department spokesman Jim Long.

The memorial, which took three years to complete, was donated by the law firm Holland & Knight in lower Manhattan.

After the death on 9/11 of one of the firm's partners - Glenn Winuk, a 20-year volunteer firefighter who ran from his office to the burning buildings to assist in the rescue effort - his colleagues wanted to honor the emergency responders in a permanent way.

"We wanted to do something for these firefighters, not only the ones that passed away, but also the ones that lived on," said Brian Starer, a partner at the firm.

The idea for a memorial came about after the firm asked if they could donate a fire truck in Winuk's name to Engine Company 10, but the Fire Department wanted a memorial instead, Starer said.

The law firm then approached Rambusch, a Jersey City studio that specializes in metalwork.

Owner Martin Rambusch said that studio designers met with the fire department to decide on a concept, and the firm began a campaign to raise $1 million from its lawyers and staff for the sculpture.

The memorial will be closed to the public two evenings next week for private viewing by firefighter families.

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