Who is That Firefighter?
Who is the man that was photographed rushing up the stairs on September 11? Did he make it out in time?
Another picture I will always remember is the one John Labriola took of the firefighter rushing up the stairs on September 11. He had a scared look on his face and I wonder if maybe he was more scared than anybody knowing that his job took him running up the stairs and into a burning building when everyone else was trying to run down the stairs and outside.
His name is Mike Kehoe and he is a firefighter with Engine 28. For a few days after the attacks, news outlets had reported that Mike didn’t make it out alive, but when reports surfaced that Mike was alive and well, he became a reluctant symbol of heroism and bravery from September 11.
I say reluctant because he was sent overseas for the Pride of Britain Awards in 2002 and he told the UK Independent that everyone was treating him like “some kind of hero” and treating him like he had “saved hundreds of lives” when in truth he says that he only saved one: His own. And he says that he saved his own life “because he ran”
Mike said he knows that it’s his job to save lives and he sees burning buildings all the time, but there was nothing on Earth that could have prepared him for September 11, 2001.
When the second plane struck the south tower, he was on the 28th floor in the north tower and he said the impact was so powerful that the north tower actually swayed and shook. The evacuation order came over his radio a short time later and they all turned and ran back down the stairs.
Mike says it took about three minutes for him to get down the stairs and out of the building when it collapsed behind him. Six people from his fire hall did not make it.
Mike lives with his wife on Staten Island. He is still with Engine 28.