A window washer who used his squeegee to save his life and those of five men during the attacks on the World Trade Center has been honored at the International Window Cleaning Association's annual convention.

Jan Demczur, 48, was hailed as a hero by more than 700 colleagues at a luncheon Friday. The Polish immigrant and five others managed to escape from the trade center five minutes before the North Tower collapsed.

Demczur, who worked for 10 years at the trade center, was riding an express elevator with the five men Sept. 11 when an airliner slammed into the tower. When the elevator doors opened, the men were blocked by a wall. Demczur used his squeegee to slice through the wall and the men emerged 45 minutes later and raced down a stairwell 50 floors to safety.

``The heroes are the people who didn't get out,'' said Demczur, who is in counseling to deal with grief and nightmares. ``I am lucky to be alive.''

Demczur is unsure when he'll return to work.

``When I do go back, I only want to clean windows that I can get to with a ladder,'' he said.

His squeegee is headed for display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.