Residents and first responders across Vancouver Island took time on Sunday to remember the deadly 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City.
On September 11, 2001 two hijacked planes flew into the Twin Towers, killing nearly 3,000 people.
Victoria residents told CHEK News that 21 years later, they can still recall where they were when it happened.
“I remember going into work and the person who I sit beside told me about 9/11. I hadn’t heard about it. It was so hard to take in,” Greg Plosker said.
Pradeep Nair told CHEK News that he “felt the blood drain from my face realizing how big it was.”
Chief Chris Aubrey with the Langford Fire Department had just started his career as a firefighter when the attacks happened.
He said it was hard to have to watch the events unfold from 4,818 kilometres away and not being able to jump in and help.
“It’s just so helpless here knowing the impact, the loss of life and the demands it would put on the New York fire service,” Aubrey said.
He added it was a feeling he would never forget.
On Sunday, the fire department reflected on the attacks and remembered the 343 firefighters who died in the line of duty.
Crews lowered the flags at the fire department to half-mast, had a moment of silence and lit a memorial candle memorial.
Aubrey said the Langford department was also gifted a fire helmet from the New York firefighters in 2002 after attending a firefighter funeral a year after the attacks. It was placed in the front office as another visual reminder.
“Certainly I don’t think there is any fire department that will ever forget. This is a very significant day,” he added. “It’s a day to reflect and recognize that yes it is a hazardous job, but also to recognize the bravery of those individuals.”
The fallout of the 9/11 terrorist attack brought in new security protocols for those travelling by plane or attending big gatherings and events.
This included limiting liquids in carry on bags on planes and increased security.
According to Aubrey, there were also significant changes to firefighting.
“We didn’t ever conceive that people were going to be out to have a massive loss of life like that,” Aubrey stated. “We had a better understanding of the bad things people could do.”
He said shortly after the attack firefighters learned that if there was a potential for a terrorist attack, the first attack would be the smallest in order to draw first responders to the scene.
Aubrey added they also started training on different types of hazardous materials and what they could be used for.
“We were learning ways to be able to protect ourselves so that we could protect the public,” he explained.
Aubrey believes it’s because of these reasons that both rookie firefighters and the public take the time to educate themselves on 9/11 and remember all the lives that were lost.
“I think it’s by remembering and by honouring their sacrifice, we will hopefully say never again,” he added.
Never forget pic.twitter.com/3LSRUUDVBr
— Langford Fire Rescue (@LangfordFire) September 11, 2022