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Firefighter John M. Collins

Ladder 25

Firefighter Collins's Act of Heroism

Over 400 first responders lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Heroically performing their sworn duty, these firefighters, members of the NYPD and PAPD, and numerous other rescue workers will forever be remembered for their sacrifice.

My Hero

After three years setting up computers and training his comrades in the New York Fire Department, John Collins couldn't wait to return to doing what he loved best, helping people in desperate circumstances.

On Sept. 6, Mr. Collins, 42, of New York, got himself reassigned from the training job back to fighting fires with Ladder Co. 25.

Five days later, Mr. Collins died as he lived, "an honorable man," among the first firefighters who responded to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, said his mother, Nancy Collins, of Franklin Township.

"He gave his life truly serving others," she said. "It was what he believed in and always wanted to do, to help the next guy."

Profile by Joe Tyrrell published in THE STAR-LEDGER.


When John Collins was 4 years old, his father took him to a Bronx firehouse. That is when he decided what he wanted to do. It took a while, with entrance exams delayed because of a legal dispute, so he joined the Police Department first before becoming a fireman in 1990.

The oldest of five children, Mr. Collins, 42, organized family events, like two weeks each year on Long Beach Island in New Jersey, or a benefit concert on the aircraft carrier Intrepid in Manhattan, followed by a night on the town with his sisters and their husbands. He lived in the Bronx, lifted weights and bought groceries for neighbors who were down on their luck.

He never talked much about his work, his sister Eileen Byrne recalled, because he did not want to worry his parents. "We teased him, said he was the only fireman who never went to a fire," she said.

That is not how they remember him at Ladder Company 25 on 77th Street. On Sept. 11, he was supposed to go to another firehouse to fill in. It was called out before he could get there. When Ladder 25 was called, he jumped on the engine. "We had seven firemen on the rig instead of six," said another fireman, Matt O'Hanlon.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 6, 2001.
Information courtesy of the Remember 9/11/2001 memorial site on


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