West Haven Fire Department reflects on Ground Zero response

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As the country reflected on the 18th anniversary of Sept. 11, West Haven remembered the more than two dozen of the town's firefighters who responded to Ground Zero.

The names of all 341 firefighters who died that day were read aloud in remembrance.

The West Haven Fire Department sent 30 firefighters to help clean up Ground Zero, with the fire chief being one of them. It was a hand-to-hand operation, handing 5-gallon buckets from one person to the next.

"How could you not?" Lt. William Heffernan said. "The biggest disaster in my lifetime."

"Literally going down to an area cleared out, where they would dump the buckets and then there were payloaders there to haul that debris away," said Chief James O'Brien.

He said the ash on the ground as they were walking "was like walking through snow."

O'Brien added that the number of firefighters who have died since Sept. 11 will soon surpass the number who died on that day.

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