Palm Springs Fire Department Shares Story of 9/11 With Younger Generations

Kamari Esquerra

On the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Palm Springs Fire Dept. is commemorating the lives lost that day, including several of their own.

“It’s personal. It’s something that we hold deep in our hearts everyday we go to work,” said Jacob Ragsdale, a Palm Springs firefighter. “It’s something that as a fireman, we’re aware of everyday. It’s always in the back of our minds.”

Of the nearly 3,000 people who were killed on 9/11, 342 of them were firefighters. The Palm Springs firefighters vow to make 9/11 a day we never forget, sharing the story of that tragic day with their children, many of whom were not even born yet.

Freddy Paz, Palm Springs Firefighter Paramedic

“It’s very important,” said Freddy Paz, a Palm Springs firefighter. “It’s great to have (my son) here and it’s great to explain to him what went on before he was even born- to get him to understand, appreciate it, and honor (9/11) is enough for me.”

Dozens of firefighters and their families, made up of mostly young children, attended the memorial event on Saturday morning.

“Having all the families here together experiencing that and showing them what this day was, what it meant to us and what it means to us is very important,” said Ragsdale. “(It’s about) showing my kids, even though they’re young is a tragic day, (that) this is something that brought us together then, and it continues to bring us together every anniversary.”

Many of the Palm Springs firefighters were young themselves, barely able to understand what was happening right before their eyes.

“9/11 happened when I was in elementary school, and just after seeing that unfold on TV, I knew that I wanted to help and when I grew older,” said Firefighter Rickey Gandhi. “EMS was the profession I wanted to choose.” 

“For me, I was 9-years-old when this happened,” said Paz. “Now that I’m older now, I’m able to understand how tragic it was and how much it’s impacted even the generations to this day.”

Brodie MacLean comes from a long line of firefighters. His grandfather, Jim MacLean was a former Battalion Chief, and now his father, Matt MacLean, serves as the Battalion Chief of the Palm Springs Fire Department. Brodie said he wants to continue that legacy, and follow in his father’s footsteps.

BRODIE MACLEAN COMES FROM A LONG LINE OF FIREFIGHTERS. HIS GRANDFATHER WAS A FORMER BATTALION CHIEF… AND NOW HIS FATHER SERVES AS THE BATTALION CHIEF OF THE PALM SPRINGS FIRE DEPARTMENT… 

“I’m proud of him, and I look up to him,” said Brodie MacLean. “I want to be a firefighter one day.” 

9/11 is not just a time to remember the sacrifices made that day, but also a time to honor those who continue to put their lives on the line day in and day out.

“And never forget those who died on that tragic day, but also remember that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, Palm Springs firefighters risk their lives to save the lives of those in the community they serve,” said one of the speakers at the event.  

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