The star returned to his roots in the aftermath of the devastating terrorist attack to help out his fellow New Yorkers.
Twenty years ago, as America reeled from the worst terrorist attack on its soil, Hollywood star Steve Buscemi decided it was time to return to his roots. The Reservoir Dogs actor, who used to work as an FDNY firefighter in the Little Italy area of Manhattan before switching careers, quietly joined the 9/11 firefighters to search for survivors in the rubble of the World Trade Center. "From September 12, he worked 12-hours-a-day for a week, helping his former colleagues search for survivors (343 firefighters were killed when the towers collapsed), digging through the remains of the World Trade Center for signs of life and helping to take away those who had lost their lives," Yahoo reports.
While many others in his shoes might've turned it into a PR opportunity, Buscemi didn't want accolades for helping his fellow New Yorkers. The actor didn't tell anyone about his involvement in the rescue efforts and there is little to no photographic evidence of his presence on the ground. According to the Independent, speaking of donning his firefighting helmet once again, Buscemi said at the time: "It was a privilege to be able to do it. It was great to connect with the firehouse I used to work with and with some of the guys I worked alongside."
How Hollywood star Steve Buscemi quietly joined the 9/11 firefighters to sift through rubble of the World Trade Centre https://t.co/anLpaxDRQ1— Newsdaily (@Newsdailyng1) September 8, 2021
"And it was enormously helpful for me because while I was working, I didn’t really think about it as much, feel it as much," he added. Buscemi's selfless deed only came to light a few years later when Jonathan Lusk, a fire captain in Fresno, California, brought the inspiring story to light through a post on the Brotherhood of Fire Facebook page. "Do you recognize this man? Do you know his name? Lots of people know he's an actor, and that his name is Steve Buscemi. What very few people realize is that he was once one of New York's Bravest," he wrote.
Hollywood actor, Steve Buscemi, while working as a New York City firefighter in 1981. He would suit up again, unannounced, the afternoon of September 11th, 2001. pic.twitter.com/2KookuzJ3B— Coffee, Dogs & History (@coffeedogshist) September 2, 2021
"In 1976 Steve Buscemi took the FDNY civil service test when he was just 18 years old. In 1980 Steve Buscemi became a New York City Firefighter. For four years, Buscemi served on one of FDNY's busiest, Engine Co. 55 in Manhattan's Little Italy. He later left the fire service to become a successful actor, writer, and director," Lusk continued. "After 9/11/2001... Brother Buscemi returned to FDNY Engine 55. On September 12, 2001, and for several days following Brother Steve worked 12-hour shifts alongside other firefighters digging and sifting through the rubble from the World Trade Center looking for survivors."
"Very few photographs and no interviews exist because he declined them. He wasn't there for the publicity," Lusk explained. "In 2003 he also gave a speech at a union rally supporting higher wages for firefighters and to stop fire houses from closing. He got arrested along with other firefighters. Also not very well known is that in 2012 Brother Buscemi showed up in Breezy Point, NY, and quietly assisted in the clean-up efforts of the damage and mass destruction left by Super Storm Sandy. Once a brother, always a brother! Just so we're clear… this guy is a Badass !!! Tip of the helmet Brother Steve!"
In addition to supporting his firefighting brothers on the ground in times of great distress, Buscemi also produced a documentary for HBO called A Good Job: Stories of the FDNY in 2014, which examined what it was like to work as a firefighter up close. The star opened up about his time as a firefighter in a CBS interview the same year, where he recalled how it was to arrive at the scene of a fire. "It's very chaotic. There's lots of noises, you hear glass being broken, you have a mask on so you can't really see a lot," Buscemi said at the time. "It's very hard to describe but all your senses are going. Your adrenaline is pumping and your mind is trying to stay focused... It's all about bringing in a hose and putting water on the fire. You know when you have a job a few blocks away because there's a certain smell. It always helps that you have people surrounding you that help you through it."