Former NYC firefighter remembers 9/11

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PHOENIX - “I reported in as a Lieutenant in charge of a ladder company at a station not far from the towers,” Raul Muniz said.
It was a job retired New York City firefighter Muniz had for more than 20 years. And then the unthinkable happened.

“We carried our equipment and we made our way to the towers and the sight that beheld us was an incredible sight to see these two massive towers on fire,” Muniz said.

Less than two hours after those planes hit, the twin towers collapsed.

“We we're later assigned to go across the street and search buildings and rescue people that we're in those buildings,” Muniz said. “They we're on fire as well, but little did we know the [fire] companies that we're chosen to go across the street would actually survive the day.”

For the next three months, Muniz worked around the clock searching through mountains of debris.

“I realized that life is very short and things are very important, aspirations, goals,” Muniz said. “Your family is so important.”

Muniz retired from the New York City fire department in 2004. He went to law school and now calls Arizona home. He's currently the director of the fire science program at Glendale Community College.

“I feel very lucky to be able to be here at Glendale Community College teaching the next generation of firefighters,” Muniz said.

While it's been almost ten years since that fateful day, Muniz feels we've come a long ways as a nation.

“Our security forces, intelligence agencies have got a lot better detecting who is coming into the country and who is a threat,” Muniz said.

Many first responders like Muniz are now dealing with asthma and other respiratory problems associated with the attacks, which is why he believes getting the care they need is key.

“We have to remember in the future, illnesses that weren't apparent, these first few years will become apparent and these people did give up a part of their lives to serve their country,” he continued.

A country came together in those crucial hours that September day.

“We all came together as Americans and we have to always remember to maintain that unity,” Muniz said.