News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, May 3, 2011
AUGUSTA, Ga.---Out of the nearly 3,000 people killed on September 11th, 343 of them were New York City firefighters. Their loss is still felt 800 miles away, at an Augusta fire station on Highland Avenue. Nearly 10 years later and Station 8 has become a "sister station" to Ladder 46 in New York.
For many firefighters their job is more than a job, it's their life-- a brotherhood that can extend far beyond their own town.
Battalion Chief Ivan Bolgla recalls the terrible feeling in the pit of his stomach watching the events unfold September 11, 2001.
"When I saw the towers fall I knew for a fact New York City had lost a bunch of firefighters, police, and EMT's," says Chief Bolgla.
343 New York City firefighters, all doing what they could to help others, were killed at Ground Zero. They were running in, when everyone else was running out.
"That is just a tremendous amount, I don't think anybody was expecting that many fatalities for one event. Losing one brother's too many, but 343, I just can't fathom losing that many people at one time," adds Chief Bolgla.
One of the victims, 41-year old Paul Tegtmeier has family in Augusta. After 9/11 Station 8 on Highland Avenue reached out to his company, Ladder 46.
"It's a brotherhood, the firefighter you know and don't know, you'd do anything...give up your life for them," says Chief Bolgla.
Small reminders of September 11th and Paul Tegtmeier surround the fire house. His family planted a tree behind the station in his memory. "It's right by the track so anybody and everybody can come by and see it," says the Chief.
Then, a few years after the attacks Station 8 got this. "In memory of the 343 New York City firefighters that were killed," reads Chief Bolgla.
It's a photo of the 343 probationary firefighters, ready to fill the boots of the men who didn't make it. It's a thank you.
"It was very exciting we know we're part of New York City. They're our sister station," adds the Chief.
It may be only ceremonial, but it still means a lot. "We know that if we ever have to go up to New York City or if they come down here, we'll do anything for them that needs to be done," says Chief Bolgla.
This week, nearly 10 years later, Chief Bolgla has been watching history unfold with all the rest of us but for him and the other firefighters... it's personal.
You may remember, in the months following the attacks in 2001 Augusta collected more than a million dollars. City officials, including the fire chief, hand delivered the check to the Mayor of New York City.
Have information or an opinion about this story? Click here to contact the newsroom.
Copyright WRDW-TV News 12. All rights reserved. This material may not be republished without express written permission.