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Firefighters, yes; and neighbors, friends

Firefighters are often first on the scene and last to leave. We risk our safety to keep residents of the city safe. On this eighth anniversary week of 9-11, we remember the 343 firefighters lost in that tragedy, and recognize Boston firefighters, past and present, and the contributions they’ve made to the community.

My father, Lt. Bob Kilduff, was a 39-year member of the Boston Fire Department who joined the ranks at the age of 22. He was a man who saw his role as much more than that of a firefighter.

In his first few years on the job, he was credited for several rescues. At 24, he entered a burning apartment complex and rescued two unconscious males. A year later, he scaled a ladder and entered a second-floor window of a burning building to search for a trapped child. Without the aid of breathing apparatus, he located the unconscious child and performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as he felt his way out of the building.

Many would describe these actions as heroic, but my Dad would tell you that he was just doing his job and any other firefighter would have done the same. He would also tell you that firefighters are easily credited for work they do and the rescues they make. However, we should also be recognized for the work we are prepared to do. Certainly none of us hope to die, but we took an oath that, given the choice between a civilian life and that of our own, we will do everything in our power to see that civilian to safety.

In 2002, my Dad’s life took a tragic turn, when, at age 55, he was diagnosed with occupational cancer. He used the rest of his time here to educate his peers about the importance and need for yearly cancer screenings. It also motivated him to give something back to the community he had served for so many years.

I’m proud that he founded the Boston Firefighters Children’s Fund. This was a man who had spent too many time watching children being burned out of their homes during the holidays. The Boston Firefighters Children’s Fund mission is simple: to replace Christmas presents that have been lost or damaged by a fire.

My Dad lost his battle with cancer at age 60. He was a highly decorated and respected veteran Fire Department lieutenant. However, that is not how he would have described himself. He would have shrugged his shoulders and said, simply: “I was just doing my job.”

Lt. Bob Kilduff’s story is just one of the many that could be told of Boston firefighters who continually give back to the community. You can find us across Boston serving as youth sports coaches or volunteering for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. We’ve opened up Florian Hall thousands of times for fundraisers, school benefits, and community organizations.

Boston firefighters – we’re not just your firefighters, we’re your neighbors.

Robert Kilduff Jr. is a member of the Boston Fire Department.