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Inspired by 9/11: Volunteer Firefighter John Battistoni

"I felt there was something I wanted to do to help"


John Battistoni, a 57-year-old technical consultant, decided just a few months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks that he wanted to become a volunteer firefighter — if being "a fat guy" who'd had a heart attack wouldn't stand in his way.

Find a 9/11 National Day of Service volunteer opportunity. >>

It didn't. Today Battistoni is a volunteer captain with the Southern Stone County Fire Protection District in Branson West, Mo.

What was it about firefighting that moved Battistoni to sign up?

"Those are the folks who run to things, not away," he remembers thinking after 9/11. "You don't know what's going to happen. … Somebody needs help, you go and do it."

Battistoni tells the story of how, two years ago, he and his colleagues fought 11 house fires in the last week of December and saved every house. But as he sees it, it's all in a day's work — even if it's work he doesn't get paid for.

"Sometimes I've worked all night to fight a fire," he says. "If you don't make time, who will?"


Interviewer/sound recordist: Missy Shelton
Photos: Ryan Nicholson
Music: "Division," courtesy of

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