Anaheim Fire Station 6 has a kitchen table that is something special. Something to behold. It’s a 12-foot-long collection of things given new meaning and great weight, crafted into a daily reminder about brotherhood and service.
Battalion Chief Mike Molloy clearly has thought a lot about the subject. He sits at one end of the table, dishing his thoughts on the many meals, meetings and moments of reflection that have taken place at it. All of them mean a lot to him.
“The dinner table is the heart of a fire station. It’s where we discuss our day, we do training, and we break bread together. This is where we meet after a bad day,” Molloy says. “It’s kind of a no-rank place in the station.”
Molloy, a craftsman as well as a firefighter, had a plan.
“I always wanted a bowling-alley table,” he said. “One day I found out a local alley was replacing lanes.”
He salvaged the wood from the bowling alley in 2004 and turned it into a simple conference table. Four years later, he rethought the plan and began turning it into a fire station dinner table.
“This thing took years to finish,” he says. “I don’t even know the number of man hours (put into) this.”
It quickly became a project the entire station had a personal stake in, including more than $2,000 from their own pockets. It also became a project that would serve as a keeper of memories and mementos.
Molloy designed the giant logo at the center, with the motto “Living in the Hot Zone” referencing the hazardous material specialty team that was based out of the station the table was to live in. But before the table could be completed, Anaheim’s hazmat team was moved. So there is a number eight at one corner, symbolizing where the team originally was housed, and the number six on the other for where it is now.
The opposite end of the table eventually would receive the last and perhaps most powerful touch of all: a chunk of glass from one of the World Trade Center towers that fell in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on New York.
“When 9/11 happened, it happened to all of us,” Molloy says. “So to have a piece of the towers is something special. Having a piece of New York here and the NYFD, it goes with everything we do.”
In the two months that followed the attacks, Anaheim firefighters raised $88,000 for their New York brethren. They presented the money to them in November 2001, and while there they made a special connection with firefighter John Sheehan and the others at Hooper Street Station, who lost seven of their own on 9/11 and spent weeks combing through the rubble at ground zero.
In 2009, Molloy received the two-inch wide by inch-thick chunk of glass and a handwritten letter from Sheehan.
“To all of our Anaheim brothers,” Sheehan wrote. “I hope this small in size little piece of glass from the WTC will be accepted as a token of gratitude for all your help, friendship and concerns over the years.
“You can’t measure the value of this piece of glass in size, but you can measure the support and friendships that have grown from our worst tragedy. May all of you stay safe until we meet again. Your brother, John.”
Molloy inlaid the chunk in a corner of the table, with a gold emblem at the opposite side of the table that reads: “New York’s Finest ‘343’ 9-11-01.” The number 343 represents the number of firefighters lost on Sept 11, 2001.
The table finally was finished in 2012. Not long after, Sheehan visited the station and got to see the final result.
“He was touched,” Molloy says.
Every September, a group from Anaheim Fire & Rescue marches with seven flags from ground zero to a church near Hooper Street Station in Brooklyn, where the services originally were held for the lost firefighters.
Anaheim firefighters also wear a special Sept. 11 remembrance badge all month, and their everyday uniform includes a patch on their right shoulder in memory of their fallen brethren.
Each year on Sept 11 at 8:46 a.m., firefighters also hold a moment of silence at the flag in front of their Anaheim stations to remember the moment the first jet hit the towers.
Every day, the firefighters gather around the table at Fire Station 6. It is a moment to bond with their brothers. Brothers present and brothers gone. Brothers forever. Something special. And something to behold.