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Vulcan Society Remembers 9/11 Heroes

Firefighter John Coombs remembers 9/11 as a very warm and beautiful day when he started work on some plumbing in his Bed Stuy basement. It was when he came out to buy water that he heard about a plane hitting the twin towers. At first, he assumed it was a small training plane “I couldn’t wrap my mind around anything else.”

It was on his second trip to the store for more water that he heard a second plane had hit the buildings and he told someone nearby that the United States was under attack. After picking up his daughters bringing them to his wife, “I then went to the firehouse and got my gear, I was the second person at the firehouse and we waited for the team to head to the rendezvous point in East New York, only to get over to Manhattan and get turned around because there was just so much chaos. Which was probably the best thing to do because nothing had been established in terms of tactics. So that was probably a Godsend that we got turned around.”

The Saturday before he had been speaking with Tarel Coleman in Squad 252, Special Tactics and Operations. Combs had been in the department 2 years at that point. As a former plumber, he was doing plumbing at the Vulcan Society’s building on Eastern Parkway and met Tarel. “We talked about family and children, he had a daughter and we talked about that. Little did I know he was really pushing for me to at least look into joining the special company because I had skills with tools, blueprints and for him, he felt that was wasted in the firehouse and should be used to make a better fire department. Little did I know, that would be our last conversation.”

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