By Nicole Breskin
GREENWICH VILLAGE — Newsman Anderson Cooper will reinstall a 9/11 memorial plaque outside the former firehouse he recently purchased following pleas from the father of a firefighter who lost his life during the Sept. 11 attacks.
“It’s part of the character and history of the building,” Tom Keaney, a spokesperson for Cooper, told DNAinfo. “He’s committed to renovating and restoring the building as a historic structure, and this is part of that idea.”
When the CNN anchor purchased the one-time firehouse on W. Third Street for $4.3 million late last year, the bronze plaques that memorialized fallen members of Fire Patrol 2 had already been stripped from the building to prepare the property for sale.
But Arnie Roma, a former firefighter who rescued the plaques from being trashed, had been hoping to return one in particular that had hung outside the firehouse in honor of his son, Keith, and other firefighters who died at the Twin Towers.
Roma was a member of the Fire Patrol based out of the W. Third Street firehouse in the 1970s, and his son was in service there for five years before he lost his life.
Roma called Cooper’s office at least three times in recent weeks to request that the plaque be restored, but said he never got a response.
“I was kind of shocked that I finally heard from them,” Roma said. “I am relieved, though. The plaque should have never come off the building.”
The plaque was given to the firehouse by the city and hung on the facade until 2006, when the Board of Fire Underwriters decided to close the Fire Patrol and sell the 1906 building.
At the time, the plaque — along with others from the building’s interior that honored Fire Patrolmen lost in fires in Chelsea and Soho in the 1940s and ’50s — were tossed in the garbage. But Roma dug them out.
He is also currently trying to reinstate the Fire Patrol, a firefighting service that existed before the municipal Fire Department and worked to prevent losses at insured properties. He hopes to put the remaining plaques, which are at his Staten Island home, inside a new firehouse if it gets built.
Cooper’s publicist was not yet sure of when the plaque would be put back on the building.
The project’s architect, Cary Tamarkin, said he was not responsible for plans to return the plaque to the site but that he and Cooper will continue with plans to preserve the firehouse.