As rescue survivors raced to the scene on September 11, the Hollywood star put in a selfless shift – declining any interview requests until firefighters shared details of his efforts
Image: Getty Images)
There were countless heroes in the wake of the 9/11 terror attack – and chief among them were the brave firefighters who rushed to the scene.
However, among the crowd of rescue workers searching for survivors in the rubble of the Twin Towers was a surprising figure – film star Steve Buscemi.
By this time, the actor was already known around the world for his roles in hits like Reservoir Dogs, Fargo and The Big Lebowski.
But before he broke into Hollywood in the 1980s, Buscemi, now 63, actually worked as a firefighter and returned to help out his old colleagues dealing with the barbaric New York attacks that claimed 2,753 lives.
In the days after September 11, 2001, he worked 12 hour shifts to help hunt through the rubble alongside firemen from his former station, where he worked from 1980 to 1984.
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While details of his heartwarming actions were initially kept under wraps, a Facebook post on the Fire Brotherhood in 2013 shed light on his heroics.
“Do you recognise this man? Do you know his name?” it read.
“Lots of people know he’s an actor, and that his name is Steve Buscemi. What very few people realise is that he was once one of New York’s Bravest.
“Buscemi served on one of FDNY’s busiest, Engine Co. 55 in Manhattan’s Little Italy. He later left the fire service to become a successful actor, writer and director.
“After 9/11/2001… Brother Buscemi returned to FDNY Engine 55.
“On September 12, 2001 and for several days following Brother Steve worked 12-hour shifts alongside other firefighters digging and sifting through the rubble from the World Trade Center looking for survivors.
“Very few photographs and no interviews exist because he declined them. He wasn’t there for the publicity.”
Buscemi remained tight lipped at the time, doing what he could to stay out of the limelight and declining interview requests.
When he finally spoke out about his efforts, he described it as “a privilege”.
He said: “It was a privilege to be able to do it. It was great to connect with the firehouse I used to work with and with some of the guys I worked alongside.
“And it was enormously helpful for me because while I was working, I didn’t really think about it as much, feel it as much.”
“It wasn’t until I stopped that I really felt the full impact of what had happened. It would have been much harder for me to get through it if I hadn’t been able to do that.”
The star has since made HBO documentary A Good Job to encourage more people to join the New York fire department.
It also urged any firefighters struggling with trauma to seek professional help.
Following Al-Qaeda’s horrific assault on the Twin Towers, 343 firefighters gave their lives protecting and rescuing others.
Buscemi still serves on the Board of Advisors for Friends of Firefighters, an organisation dedicated to New York firefighters and their relatives.
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