'Still gives me chills,' Barrie firefighters recall being in NYC for the 9/11 aftermath

Longtime Barrie Fire Platoon Chief Kevin White has been drawn in by a flurry of new 9/11 documentaries, though he concedes they've been difficult to watch. His trauma reactivated.

White is one of more than 50 first responders from Barrie who boarded small private planes destined for New York City after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

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As flights were grounded, passengers were stranded globally, and firefighters were summoned to New York to support their brothers and sisters in crisis.

Prominent Barrie business leader Jamie Massie answered the call for help to get firefighters to New York aboard planes owned by Georgian International.

"It was a way for me to feel that I was helping," Massie says. "It was a very confusing, worrying time for most Canadians."

After arriving in New York, with the air still thick with dust, Barrie firefighters attended the funerals of those killed in the line of duty when their city colleagues couldn't.

"Mostly because their fire force was tied up, still searching for their missing, lost brothers and sisters," explains White.

"The one thing that we could do for the families, their fallen child, spouse, person that they loved, we would go there and just be there in numbers to help out their families," he adds.

"It still gives me chills to talk about it," says Platoon Chief Eric MacFadden, who joined White in New York.

"Being a part of helping with the funerals, and to celebrate their lives and be able to think about the sacrifice that they made, it was pretty honourable. It's a memory that will always stick with me," he says.