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Eastchester Firefighter Goes Beyond Call of Duty

EASTCHESTER, N.Y. — As an Eastchester firefighter for the past two decades, Jay Rockhill has had his share of unforgettable experiences on the job. Like the other men in uniform, he regularly rescues victims from burning buildings, has helped save lives after a train derailed from its tracks and once even helped a mother deliver her baby.

Of that experience, he says, “When we pulled up to the scene, the baby's head was already crowning — there was no going back at that point.”

His Chester Heights team was also dispatched to New York City’s Ground Zero on Sept. 11, 2001, where they aided firefighters from Brooklyn and the Bronx after a plane hit the first tower of the World Trade Center. They later helped with recovery and cleanup efforts.

Many members of the New York City Fire and Police departments had died in the collapse of the buildings, and Rockhill recalls searching through the rubble for the fallen heroes. He also helped organize funerals for many of them, which he now thinks back on as a great honor and privilege but also a source of pain.

“I have the honor of knowing every time that alarm goes off, it’s an opportunity to go out and help people.” And although his profession comes with its rewarding benefits, it is Rockhill’s efforts off-duty that make him stand out. He lives in Eastchester with his wife Robin and children James, 12, Ryan, 11, and Abigail, 8.

He’s an avid volunteer at the Village Lutheran Church in Bronxville, where he lends a hand when he can for his congregation. For the Chapel School’s annual fundraiser and auction, Gathering of Friends, for example, Rockhill has auctioned a trip on his boat and cooked dinner in the firehouse so civilians can see what it’s like to work there.

Most recently, he helped coordinate a fundraiser for a local family in need. Anyone who would like to contribute can send a check to the Village Lutheran Church and in the “memo” section write, ‘Donation for the Keeley Family Fund.” Village Lutheran Church is located at 172 White Plains Road in Bronxville.

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