A New York City firefighter who responded to the World Trade Center on 9/11 paid tribute to the three Baltimore firefighters who died battling a blaze in a vacant row home Monday with a heartfelt tribute.
Firefighters Lt. Paul Butrim, Kelsey Sadler and Kenneth Lacayo served a combined 38 years.
Frank Papalia, a retired FDNY lieutenant and vice president of fire and life safety training at Global Security Group, Inc., shared a poem on Twitter.
"Just ordinary people with a calling, that has us truly blessed … Which makes it hard to understand why He always takes the best" the poem says.
"The poem for Baltimore is intended to pay homage to the firefighters lost … and the unfortunate ease with which it could happen. I have been at fires where we lost our own, and I know the pain they are feeling." Papalia told Fox News Digital.
Papalia become a firefighter in August 1986. He was promoted to lieutenant in November 2002, after the Sept. 11 attacks.
"Just ordinary people with a calling, that has us truly blessed… Which makes it hard to understand why He always takes the best"
After 20 years serving New York City, Papalia retired in 2006.
After Hurricane Katrina hit in the summer of 2005, Frank and a group of retired firefighters continued to serve their country's communities. They began taking trips to the Gulf Coast to offer assistance and to provide families with encouragement and a helping hand.
"We have seen the worst of the worst — 9/11, hurricanes, fires, etc., but nothing prepared us for the incredible surgical damage we saw. It was as catastrophic as it could be," Papalia said.
Tom O'Connor, a good friend of Papalia and a fellow former New York firefighter lieutenant, joined forces with Papalia to help in the recovery efforts.
In 2010, The Tunnel to Towers Foundation reached out to O'Connor about a partnership with the New York City firefighters.
Together, the New York City Fire Department and the Tunnels to Towers Foundation have been able to provide disaster relief to families impacted by tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.
When a tornado tore through Mayfield, Kentucky, the NYC firefighters sprang into action. Papalia, O'Connor and fifty active duty and retired New York City firefighters handed out Christmas gifts and cooked a free community barbecue for the families impacted by the tornado.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the New York City Firefighters raised funds to buy 15,000 toys to ensure that "every child had a Christmas gift to open."