YUKON, Okla. (KFOR) – He is a battalion chief of three these days.
More than a year since retiring from the Oklahoma City Fire Department, Larry Hansen, Peanut, Frank and Ginger work a nonstop shift from his house in Yukon.
“This is my crew,” he smiles as Ginger tries to lick his face.
In April of 1995, he helped sweep the Alfred P. Murrah Building in the first minutes after the blast and helped search for victims in the rubble for 17 straight days.
He recalls, “You would work your 12-hour shift then go back to the fire station and work a 24-hour shift
He didn’t know at the time but the impactful lessons from which his helmet could not protect were to prove invaluable in passing on to the New York City firefighters who went through the same kinds of pressures six years later.
“A lot of the time they would ask me, ‘How do you handle this? How do you get over it? How do you keep going to work and doing what you do?'”
In the months after 9/11, he and several other members of a Critical Incident Stress Management Team (CISM) visited the former Twin Towers site, helping sift through the debris and helping first responders through their own feelings about what they’d gone through.
“It takes time,” Larry says, “and talking through it. Your best coping mechanisms are talking to your fellow responders.”
Twenty years go by like a flash.
Larry spent years walking the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon in full gear and climbing stairwells on the 9/11 anniversary to support his FDNY brothers.
Hansen says, “It opens that line of communications where you can talk about things, where it’s not just bottled up inside of you.”
On this 9/11, he’ll watch some news coverage and text a few friends who were there.
Then he might sit a spell on a retirement bench he designed himself inscribed with both the Murrah and 9/11 emblems.
Hansen remains one of the few people deeply connected to these two critical events with the experience and training to find a way through.
Larry officially retired from the Oklahoma City Fire Department in February of 2020 after more than 32 years on the job.