Daughter of FDNY firefighter killed on 9/11 to graduate from Fire Academy

By Caitlin Nolan New York Daily News

Josephine Smith has lived by three words since her father, FDNY firefighter Kevin Smith, was killed in the September 11, 2001, terror attacks — “Make him proud.”

And come Tuesday, when Smith, 34, graduates from the Fire Academy and becomes the first daughter of a firefighter killed on 9/11 to become a firefighter herself, she will have achieved that goal.

“I couldn’t be more honored to follow in my father’s footsteps and carry out his legacy,” Smith told the Daily News. “It’s a big deal to me.”

Smith has wanted to be a firefighter her entire life.

“As long as I can remember, as far back as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a firefighter,” she said, beaming with pride after completing a set of scenarios for FDNY Family Day Saturday, an event that shows the upcoming graduates’ family and friends what their loved ones have learned during their 18 weeks of training.

“I remember being like these little kids here, playing on the firetruck at my dad’s firehouse. And always telling my dad I was going to work with him one day. Always,” she said.

The rest of Smith’s family has supported her and her dream, in spite of the concern that comes with having a loved one on the job.

“My mom’s worried, of course. They’re all worried, but they’re extremely proud. They all support me, have my back,” she said.

Kevin Smith, 47, a father of eight from Long Island, was stationed at Hazmat Co. 1 in Manhattan on 9/11.

“Hazmat is one of our elite units that was completely wiped out on 9/11,” said FDNY spokesman Jim Long. “Her father is one of the unaccounted for.”

After losing her father, Smith said her desire to follow in his footsteps only became stronger.

“After 9/11, I wanted to make sure this was something I was going to fulfill,” she said. “It pushed me even more. I always had a drive to want to be a firefighter, but that — it made me work 10 times harder.”

Her hard work has not gone unnoticed by the FDNY brass.

“I couldn’t be prouder that she got through this very, very difficult training,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro told The News. “She’s gone through a tough 18 weeks and proven that she’s every bit as good as her father was. I’m sure she’ll be a great firefighter (and) have a great career.”

Smith credits her squad and her memories of her father for getting her through training.

“I have a picture of him by my light switch that I see when I leave (home) every day. And a sign above it that says ‘make him proud.’ So seeing that every day, it helps. I was thinking about my dad a lot in the academy.

“To see me now, he’d be so proud. I know he’d be happy and telling everybody how proud he is of me.”

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