Steve Buscemi, Who Volunteered as a Firefighter on 9/11, Emotionally Details First Look at Ground Zero

by Samantha Whidden

Just days before the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, Golden Globe and Emmy-winning actor, Steve Buscemi emotionally shares details about his first look at Ground Zero when he volunteered as a firefighter.

In a piece he wrote for Time, Steve Buscemi revealed how he originally became a firefighter at Engine 55 in Lower Manhattan. He described his time with the station as being part of a brotherhood and he laid low as a “probie.” He eventually decided to focus on his acting career and took a leave of absence. He figured he would come back to the service eventually. 

“Seventeen years later, I was,” Steve Buscemi declared about returning to his firefighting roots. “One of the strongest sensations that flooded over me on September 11, 2001, was that feeling of connection.”

Steve Buscemi then recalls getting up the next morning and grabbing his old gear, then getting a ride to the site. He said he found a place on a bucket brigade.

“Instead of water going up, it was rubble coming down,” he stated. “Once in a while, a body bag was passed, though none weighed much at all. That was disturbing.”

Steve Buscemi Talks Debilitating Chronic Conditions Those Who Worked at Ground Zero Experienced 

While writing about his experience at Ground Zero, Steve Buscemi stated the dust was more of a nuisance. “Pulverized concrete and who-knows-what that clogged a face mask. So faster you worked better without one,” Buscemi shared. He noted someone actually said the dust and debris would kill everyone at Ground Zero in 20 years.

Unfortunately, Steve Buscemi admitted that those who were working at Ground Zero began to experience debilitating chronic conditions even before the area was cleared out.

“Today more people are thought to have died from toxic exposure at the 9/11 site than died that day.”

Although the scene was horrific and unsettling, Steve Buscemi said it actually felt good to be there and help. “I was on the site for less than a week. But it wasn’t until I got home that the magnitude of it all caught up with me.”

Prior to the September 11th attack, Steve Buscemi had already been seeing a therapist. And while it was difficult to process everything that happened in those early days, he said just having someone to talk to was a consolation.

“It’s not something first responders usually get. Announcing vulnerability is a hard thing for anyone, but especially for people whose primary identity is as a protector.”

In regards to the “Never Forgot” statement that everyone has said over the years about the September 11th attacks, Steve Buscemi adds that some people don’t have a choice by to always remember. “What’s surprising is who has to be reminded,” he said.

The actor then explained Congress should be reminded so it will continue to keep funding for the Victim Compensation Fund. The Fund helps first responders cope with the aftermath of September 11th.

Steve Buscemi concluded, “Never forget, because people are still struggling. People are still dying.”