Firefighter Joseph Hunter was not an Isle of Wight firefighter. However he was my cousin and to date the only other member of my family to join the fire service. He was also a member of Squad 288 of the North Queens fire-house of the Fire Department of New York, one of eight of his squad and nineteen of his station who entered the second stricken tower of the World Trade Centre on 11 September 2001 and never seen again. I hope you appreciate my decision to include his memory here on the pages of the IWFBF.

Firefighter Joseph Hunter was born in Brooklyn, New York, on 29 September 1969. Joe was described as a handsome boy with a serious side and caring, honest, sensitive, responsible, modest and bright but with a quiet private side too.

At aged 4 he would run to watch the local fire department turnout and when old enough he followed them as far as he was allowed on his bicycle. By the age of 11, using his Dad’s ladder, he turned out his own drill squad on the driveway and backyard involving a little red truck and a garden hose to continually defend the garden shed from imaginary destruction.

He seemed destined to be a firefighter and at 16 joined the South Hempstead Fire Department as a volunteer and spent 13 years as the hydrant man, maintaining his voluntary commitment to his home district even after becoming a full-time professional firefighter with the Fire Department of New York by entering the Academy in 1996. Regarded as the best of his type in Nassau County he would leap from the truck, connect to the hydrant, and have water on in a matter of a few seconds.

On that fateful day of 11 September 2001, Joe and his colleagues were deployed to the second of the towers to be attacked. Joe was caught in a live news clip walking with Squad 288 along the street, as they progress to the scene fully equipped and ready to enter Joe looked upwards at the scene overhead. Joe’s father was watching the news as it was broadcast and saw his son preparing to enter the tower.

Joe, looking up on the left, as featured in the live news feed watched by his father.

At 09:59 that bright, clear morning, the second tower collapsed.

Joe was only identified by the discovery of his battered helmet.

Rest in peace Firefighter Hunter.