It’s almost impossible to believe that it’s been 19 years since Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

Where were you when you heard the news? For most people, the answer to that question is something along the lines of: hovered around the TV at the office, or listening to the breaking news on the radio while commuting to work.

For actor Steve Buscemi though, the answer is quite different.

Buscemi, the eccentric oddball we’ve all come to love, seems to have been in the entertainment industry for as long as we can remember, but the character actor has not always worked in the entertainment industry. In fact, his previous career couldn’t be further away from Hollywood.

From 1980 to 1984, Buscemi worked as a firefighter for the FDNY — one of the most demanding departments in the world.


Steve Buscemi in the 80s. Credit: HBO

Despite retiring from the fire department to pursue acting a lengthy 17 years prior, when Buscemi became aware of what had happened to the Twin Towers, his firefighting instinct kicked right in.

He spent the subsequent week doing 12-hour shifts to help his former colleagues at the firehouse try and locate bodies of missing people despite the fact that he hadn’t had anything to do with that world for nearly two decades.

He didn’t want any recognition. In fact, he flat out refused interviews all together. When he did speak out on his courageous actions, he simply said: “It was a privilege to be able to do it.


Steve Buscemi and his FDNY team. Credit: HBO

“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.”

Buscemi has since worked with director Liza Garbus to produce an HBO documentary to inspire others to join the FDNY and create awareness of the profession in general.

Watch this Goalcast video for more tales of heroism: