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Noel Firth
  Irish Voice  

From Woodlawn, New York. Father from Tulla, Co. Clare. Mother from Oldcastle, Co. Meath. Resides in Yorktown Heights, New York.

Wife Kerry-Ann; children, Katelin, 9; Kieran, 7; Taryn, 6; Noelin would have been 4 (passed away from SIDS Thanksgiving morning 1997); Colin, 17 months.

NYPD background
"I became a cop in 1988. My two uncles were cops. I enjoy people a lot, and I always wanted to be one.

"I first worked as a transit cop for four years, then I went to the NYPD in 1992. I was promoted to sergeant in 1995, and I've worked in missing persons, in the South Bronx and in Harlem. At Squad 32 we investigate all crimes, from petty larceny to homicide. It's very busy.

Describe your September 11 experience
"I was at home that morning and saw it on the news. I got my bags, went to work, and didn't come home for a week.

"On September 11 I was in charge of the hospitals, waiting for all the incoming bodies, keeping track of how many cops, firemen, city workers and civilians were coming in. That didn't go so well, because not many people made it to the hospital. We worked straight through the night.

"The second day we got down to the World Trade Center. It was just total shock and disbelief. On the third day my missing persons background came into play and I was in charge of the bereavement center at the Lexington Avenue Armory. That was the toughest of anything I did. That's where I found out about all my different friends who passed away. There was about a dozen I knew. It's a horrible time for everybody, but I'm lucky. At least I didn't lose any of my family members."

What are your days like now?
"We do a lot of investigating. Since I work in the detective bureau, we cover the morgue and Fresh Kills (the landfill site at Staten Island area where debris from ground zero is brought). I was out there the other night and I have to be back there at 4 in the morning. They're checking for bodies. Obviously it's not a nice job."

What does it mean to be a member of the NYPD, post-September 11?
"Nowadays it's strange, because everybody loves cops now. Before September 11 you didn't go around saying you were a cop because people stereotyped you. But now they love you."

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