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FDNY Battalion Chief and 9/11 Survivor Retires After 34 Years

By Victor Westerkamp

After 34 years, FDNY Battalion Chief Jim McGlynn is retiring. As he heads out on another call, this is one of his last tours before he retires. He survived the World Trade Center collapse on 9/11 as one of the “Miracle 16,” and the last to be rescued from the North Tower.

“It’s a dangerous job. Unfortunately, we’ve had our fair share of casualties on this job,” McGlynn told ABC.

“Any time I’m home somewhere, and I see a picture of that building coming down, just coming down straight, I realize, I am someone down here, and I just shake my head and say, ‘OK, thank you God,'” McGlynn said to CBS.

McGlynn, then a lieutenant, spoke to CBS2 back in 2001, just two months after the 9/11 attacks that fateful morning. “We realized we were missing one firefighter, John Drum, so last time we saw him was the second, third floor,” McGlynn said. “We went back to the B stairwell to look for him, and at that point basically the building came down.”

“It sounded like a freight train coming down. The building kind of contorted around you. I tried to find a spot where you might be safe. Got into some kind of a fetal position, said a few prayers and just waited for it to stop,” he told CBS.

“We were in the staircase when the building came down … trying to get a grasp of the situation, the extent of the collapse, whether it was the entire building, whether it was both buildings. And also, of course, how are you going to get out of there,” he told ABC and continued: “The whole magnitude of the collapse kind of really hit you … You realize how lucky you are to be alive.”

“How can you make sense that the stairwell in that building stayed intact,” McGlynn said to CBS. “It’s beyond my comprehension.”

When he grabbed his walkie-talkie and called for help, and told them he was in Stairwell B in the North Tower, they answered, “where is the North Tower?” he told CBS.

The rescue team delivered McGlynn some five hours later, the last member to be pulled out of that staircase. He walked out onto an incredible landscape of devastation.

Despite the shock, McGlynn was happy to stay with the FNDY. “After September 11, I felt like I was needed. Serving New Yorkers is what I was here to do. As time went on, I told myself that if I found something that I wanted to do more, I would leave, but that never happened,” he said on Instagram. “This job is unique; you are responsible for other people’s lives, and nothing can top that. Helping people and being a part of this job is special.”

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“After September 11, I felt like I was needed. Serving New Yorkers is what I was here to do. As time when on, I told myself that if I found something that I wanted to do more, I would leave, but that never happened. This job is unique, you are responsible for other people’s lives and nothing can top that. Helping people and being a part of this job is special,” says #FDNY Battalion Chief James McGlynn, who is working his last tour after 33 years with the Department. On September 11, 2001, Chief McGlynn was trapped for several hours in Stairwell B of the North Tower of the World Trade Center as the North Tower collapsed around him and members from Engine 16, Battalion 11, Ladder 6, Engine 39, Battalion 2, PAPD Lieutenant David Lim, and three civilians. FDNY members rescued the group one by one, by lowering a rope through an opening at the top of the stairwell. Chief McGlynn, who served FDNY as a Lieutenant at the time of the attacks, was promoted to Captain in 2004, and to Battalion Chief in 2008. Chief McGlynn says, “The FDNY is my second family and I will miss being an active member. I will miss the camaraderie, the daily grind, the firehouse kitchen, and how every day was different. When I decided to join the Department in 1985, I wanted more than just a job. I wanted to do something that I was proud of.” FDNY wishes Chief McGlynn a happy and healthy retirement. #NeverForget

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He rose in the ranks to captain and then to battalion chief. As he kept on learning and teaching, he finished his career in the Bronx, the place where he grew up.

He told ABC, “This job takes you in. It molds you. It makes you into something you weren’t. And you are very lucky.”

McGlynn’s final working day was April 15, 2019.