9-11 Stories from Real Fire Wives

by | Fire Family Life, National Events, Worry and Fear

I think most people remember 9/11/01, almost like it was yesterday.  People around the world remember where they were and what they were doing when they found out America had been attacked.  Every September I have a range of emotions that come flooding back, mostly fear and deep sadness.  I was 20 years old and had an almost 3 month old newborn girl.  I was babysitting for a friend and the kids were asleep.  My mother called me and told me to turn the news on, something bad was happening.  I caught it not long before the second plane hit.  I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t want to believe it.  I remember thinking about the kids and afraid about what changes were in their future. For the next few days, like most of America, was glued to any type of news story that was on. I was terrified but I couldn’t stop watching.  I met my firefighter in 2006 and thought I felt a connection to that day but I was wrong.  I have since added strength and pride to how I feel during this month as we honor and remember both the tragedy and the way we came away from it.

We asked for your fire wife stories to share today.  These are the stories that warm my heart.  Real life.  Not media enhanced.  Not reality TV either.  Women, some of whom I know personally, sharing their life-altering 9-11 experience.  Here are a few you shared.

Where were we on 9/11? My husband, Joe, had been a firefighter for 10 years. We had a 5 month old that still wasn’t sleeping well. My hubby always turned on Fox News in the morning while getting ready. He came in and told me that America was under attack. I came out and was glued to the TV. My hubby waited until the last possible moment to leave for his 45 min drive to work, I continued to watch as first one tower then another fell. Joe arrived at work to find everyone in front of the TV. No one left the living quarters. The crew going off shift or the on coming crew. He said no one spoke. It was eerily quiet. Each station was put on high alert. They were told that planes had been grounded but there were still some unaccounted for. They were debriefed on what they were expected to do in the event of other terrorist acts. Then they were told that a place had been set up for the families of the firefighters in the event of a major incident. We would be picked up and taken to this place while our firefighter did his job. Their thoughts were that the firefighter could do a better job not worrying about their families. This was horrible to watch but being on the west coast there was a sense of detachment. While I hurt for the families of ff there was a sense of unreal. Especially when our government made the decision to censor all pictures coming in. We knew it was bad but didn’t get a picture of how bad.  -Sarah Rivera


My firefighter was working OT on 9/11. I was pregnant with our second child, our then 2.5 y/o was at preschool. David, my husband, was calling me but I couldn’t answer because I was at work preparing for a plaintiff’s deposition. The receptionist came in my office and told me David was on the phone and needed to talk with me ASAP. He told me a plane had it one of the towers and I should turn on the news. I thought he meant a small single-engine plane. He said, “No, we’re under attack.” By the time we got the TV hooked up the second plane had hit. My FF’s FD serves a prominent American icon and we figured all hands would be on deck, no one allowed to leave. (Who knew what would be targeted next?) It didn’t help my sister-in-law worked in lower Manhattan and no on could reach her.

I left work to pick-up my son from preschool, I wanted him with me. I desperately wanted my firefighter to come home but I understood he may not be able to, maybe not for a few days. Later that day he came home; we hugged and cried. That evening we learned my sister-in-law was okay (she wasn’t in her office because of elections).

I will never forget where I was, how I was standing, how I felt, what I was wearing, what I was thinking. I remember how I felt when I realized David may not be coming home for a while and how I felt when he walked through the door. It was the first time I had a full awareness of the demands of his job.  -Lisa Green


My husband was a 9/11 first responder with MOTAF1 (Missouri Task Force 1) and spent several weeks there. He lost several close friends and has physical repercussions from ground zero. 4 years ago we had our first date on 9/11 and I had no idea what that day meant to him, and it’s impact until later. Now we are married and have newborn twin boys and I pray that that date, while still raw and emotional, has another special memory for him. We pray for those lost and those who survived.-Katie Peterson


I remember driving into the junior high that morning and thinking how clear and blue the sky was. Todd was still FT police and PT fire then. I was still working at the high school then, a teacher in a classroom next door ran into our room and told us to turn on the tv, a plane had hit the WTC. I ran to the closet and called Todd, and stayed in touch with him as much as I could until he got home that evening. All I wanted to do was put my arms around him and not let go. He talked about wanting to help search, and I was terrified he’d go. Our girls were 8 and 9 at the time. I still get that helpless feeling just thinking about it.-Felicia Wagoner


My FF and I were not married or even dating when September 11th occurred. Like everyone else, it still rocked me to the core, or so I thought. I was working at our local university, in Residence Life/Housing there, and our campus pulled together like no other time before or after. It was really difficult to “be there” for students when we were all feeling all the emotions that went with that time period ourselves. Fast forward to the one year anniversary: Adam and I had been dating for just a couple of weeks, but already knew we would be getting married (we were engage on the 23rd of that month). I was still in the same position on campus, and close friends with the Dean of Students who was planning a HUGE memorial ceremony. He asked both Adam and I to be a part of that ceremony, and it was one of the most moving and amazing things I’ve ever been a part of. For the first time, it really began to sink in: the honor, pride, fear, love, hope, brotherhood that went into his job. Those 343 lives definitely took on a whole new meaning for me that day. I’ve got some amazing pictures from that ceremony that the Dean gave me, and I’m so thankful to have those to look back on and to slip back into the awe that I felt that day. -Cori Fuller


We will never forget.  We take this time to remember and honor the sacrifices made by so many that day, the friends and families who continue to mourn the loss of loved  ones and the way we continue to strive to overcome.




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Jessie -

Just a small town girl married to a firefighter since 2008, but she's so much more than a Fire Wife. She's been a member of the FirefighterWife family since 2012 and knows marriage takes a lot of work, even when it's in the best seasons.

1 Comment

  1. Rachel Auers

    21 years after that day and a fire wife will still be affected by the remembrance.
    Although I did not meet my fireman until 16 years after, this date seems to grow heavier and heavier on my heart with the years of our marriage and additions of children. Heavier it grows, when as a mama of babies, I don’t even realize the date until I’m an hour or two into the day but then instantly feel like crying as I realize that as unsuspectingly as I have realized the date and had kissed my own fm off to work that morning, so had some 343 other families sent their FF off that morning, 21 years ago. Nothing to suspect anything other than the ordinary shift day. And this thought and others like it, make me hurt for the wives who went to bed that night without their fireman and knew that they wouldn’t “come home in the morning” (as we often say to each other and our LO, “daddy be home in the morning!”) Oh, I pray I never have to try to explain that he won’t.
    God, comfort our hearts and be with us, especially when our FF is not.


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