For One of NY's Bravest, Duty Calls As Retirement Looms

After 35 years at Rescue 1, a firefighter answers one last call

By Marc Santia
|  Thursday, Oct 4, 2012  |  Updated 10:28 PM EDT
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One of New York City's most senior firefighters is hanging up his helmet for good.  News 4's Marc Santia talked to the man who put his life on the line for 35 years and those who will miss him.

Marc Santia

One of New York City's most senior firefighters is hanging up his helmet for good. News 4's Marc Santia talked to the man who put his life on the line for 35 years and those who will miss him.

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With all of the smiles, kind words, and hugs Al Benjamin is exactly where he does not want to be: in the spotlight. This humble hero ended his FDNY tour today with 35 years of service and Al wanted no part of centerstage.

Instead of talking about the 20 years he’s spent at Rescue 1, Benjamin would rather talk about the elite unit’s history. So respected they’ve been on every presidential detail in the city since Nixon.

“We’ve got Bush Junior. All the way down to Clinton,” said the FDNY veteran.

Instead of talking about his accomplishments, Al would rather talk about his FDNY family.

“That’s why these guys are so great. I call them thinkers,” Benjamin said with a smile.

If you want to know about Benjamin, ask another member of New York’s Bravest.

“Al Benjamin is an absolute gentleman," said firefighter Chris Morgan. "Since day one since I walked through these doors he’s treated me as an equal.”

Benjamin’s storied career has had it’s share of heartache. He lost several members of his family from Rescue 1 on September 11th.

Upon his retirement, Benjamin’s calm in the midst of chaos was noted by city leaders.

“On behalf of the 8.4 million New Yorkers I thank you," said Speaker Christine Quinn. "Thank you very much.”

And just when Benjamin started to open up about himself in an interview, explaining why he chose this career and his proudest proudest day joining the Bravest back in 1977, he heard a familiar sound.

“My first day when I walked into the fire academy I just felt so good. My family was so proud of me,” said Benjamin as the fire house alarm started ringing. 

“I gotta go. I gotta go," said  Benjamin, apologizing as he ran past NBC 4 New York cameras. "Excuse me”

Duty called once again.  A New Yorker was in need  And Benjamin answered the call once again -- just like he always has for these past 35 years.

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