VISTA – The Vista Fire Department has received a 9/11 artifact from the World Trade Center, a 9-foot piece of steel, and will use it to create a memorial on the firehouse grounds.

“Vista [fire department] was involved on 9/11,” said Adam Ochs, a Vista fire commissioner. “Westchester County put out a call for all fire departments to respond to the training center in Valhalla as backup and we were there.”

The involvement allowed the Vista Fire Department to apply for a 9/11 artifact and it did.

“If you were planning on using it in a respectful way, they were giving it away,” said District Manager Tom Ritchey. “We will keep it here in the building until we decide what to do with it. We plan on using it as a memorial, but we are not sure where yet. Originally, it was going to be out front. But we think maybe we’ll put in the back, away from the traffic, where it’s quieter and people can reflect.”

The piece of steel had been kept in a hanger at JFK Airport and Steve Woodstead, a Vista fire commissioner, used his flatbed truck to go down to New York and retrieve it. It arrived at the firehouse Thursday morning draped in an American flag.

Ochs said that just walking into the hanger full of 9/11 artifacts was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that put a lump in his throat.

“Walking into that place, my jaw just dropped,” he said. “Just the spread of the hanger – it was huge.”

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