In his second stint as overall chief of the Garden City Park Fire Department, Roger Green hopes his command will be nothing like his first.
Green, who recently assumed command from William Rudnick, was halfway through his first term in 2001 when the two jets struck the Twin Towers.
“Not only did we go it, we supplied a ladder truck that was stationed in Queens,” Green said.
He and other members of the department arrived at the Twin Towers site immediately after the first responders went in, he recalled.
The department dispatched an ambulance to the scene and took five firefighters suffering from smoke inhalation and eye damage to a New York City hospital.
The Garden City Park department left one crew at its headquarters to serve the surrounding area.
“We were literally covering all of our neighboring departments,” he said.
Green’s three assistant chiefs in Garden City Park were all New York City policemen. So for several months afterward, while the assistant chiefs put in long hours, he shuttered the business he owned at the time.
“I didn’t work after September 11 for several months on,” he said.
He said the department also deployed arches with its trucks for the funeral processions of each city fireman who died responding to the Twin Tower attacks. And he can’t recall how many funerals of firefighters he personally attended in the months that followed.
“It was way too many,” he said.
Those funerals included that of Keith Fairben, an emergency medical technician and a volunteer in the Floral Park Fire Department, who had been a personal friend to Green and many other local volunteers.
Along with the profound sense of loss he and his fellow volunteers, he said the September 11 attacks also prompted changes in rules and procedures for the Garden City Park department.
“It changed the whole mood of the fire department,” he recalled.
He said the September 11 attacks also sparked interest among local residents to join the department.
“We gained new members. That was the one good thing that happened,” Green said.
Green has served as one of the department chiefs in nine of the years he has been in the department since joining in 1980. Soon after joining the department’s Truck Company 1, he became treasurer of the company, and then was appointed second lieutenant, first lieutenant and captain. He’s been captain of Truck Company 1 twice and captain of the department’s Rescue Squad three times.
Asked what’s kept him motivated over the years, he said, “I’m an adrenaline junkie. And you’re doing it for a good cause.”
Green currently owns an area car wash business and said his service with the department is a way for him to give back to the community.
“If it wasn’t for the community, my business wouldn’t exist. I’m happy to give back,” he said.
Green praises Rudnick for doing a “fantastic” job on improving training in the department and said he’s currently developing a new system for his firefighters “to train to the extreme.”
He said the Garden City Park department is currently building a simulated fire truck in the basement of its Jericho Turnpike headquarters as part of that effort.
“It’s the best thing we ever built,” Green said. “We’re definitely continuing the level of training 100 percent. I feel that we are as well trained and well prepared as anyone else.”