9/11 firefighters' plaques rescued from trash in NY

The bronze plaques honor members of Fire Patrol 2 who died in the line of duty, including on 9/11

By Tom Topousis
The New York Post

GREENWICH VILLAGE, N.Y. — There'll be little room for history in Anderson Cooper's new home.

Before he bought his century-old firehouse in Greenwich Village, bronze plaques honoring members of Fire Patrol 2 who died in the line of duty — including on 9/11 — were stripped from the building to make it easier to sell.

The plaques were rescued from a pile of trash by Arnie Roma, whose son, Keith, a member of the fire patrol that worked out of the building, died on Sept. 11, 2001, rescuing people from the World Trade Center. A plaque in his son's honor graced the firehouse's facade.

Roma said he got a call last week from the Board of Fire Underwriters, the insurance-funded group that sponsored the patrol before it was shuttered in 2006, letting him know where he could find the plaques.

"If you want, come up here and get them because we don't know what to do with them," Roma said he was told by the insurance group. "They were laying in a corner with dust and garbage all around them."

The four plaques that once hung at the firehouse had been pulled down and removed by the building's former owners, fearful that the presence of the historic plaques might have made Cooper reluctant to buy the building, Roma said.

The board sold the firehouse to Cooper for $4.3 million late last year. The CNN newsman is now renovating it into a home.

"These guys didn't realize what these plaques meant to us," Roma said.

The plaques were part of a storied history behind Fire Patrol 2, which traces its firefighting roots back two centuries.

The patrol's mission was to help limit damage to property at fire scenes, but they often assisted lifesaving efforts.

Roma served in the Fire Patrol from 1971 to 1973 before becoming a city cop. His son, Keith, had been with the Greenwich Village unit for five years before his death.

"Keith made four or five trips out of the towers escorting people to safety," Roma recalled.

Roma has taken the plaques to his Staten Island home for safe-keeping.

Roma is now leading an effort to re-establish the Fire Patrol and relocate it to another building. If he's successful, he plans to hang the plaques in a new firehouse.

"They'd be afforded the respect that they're due," he said.

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