You probably know Steve Buscemi from his role in Boardwalk Empire, Con Air or Reservoir Dogs – or from his incredibly distinctive face. What you might not know, however, is his role in the tragic events of 9/11.
Before he was an actor, Buscemi had worked for several years during the 1980s as a firefighter in Manhattan’s Little Italy. It was only once he starred in his 1985 debut, The Way It Is, that he hung up his firehose.
But after 9/11, Buscemi worked several 12-hour shifts searching for survivors at the site of the World Trade Center.
Writing on Facebook, the Brotherhood of Fire said that “very few people realise that he was once one of New York’s Bravest”.
“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.
"After 9/11/2001... Brother Buscemi returned to FDNY Engine 55. On 12 September, 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."
“It was a privilege to be able to do it,” Buscemi said. “It was great to connect with the firehouse I used to work with and with some of the guys I worked alongside. 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."
And even since Buscemi has given up firefighting duties, he’s been a vociferous supporter of firefighters’ rights, speaking at several union rallies for higher wages and better conditions. In 2014 he was even appointed an Honorary Battalion Chief of the FDNY, New York’s Fire Department.