NZ firefighter tries to sell 9/11 relics

By David Fisher

A Kiwi fireman who was given mementoes from the destroyed World Trade Centre by a friend in a New York fire brigade offered them for sale on Trade Me.

Waikato firefighter Paul Single had listed the terrorist attack relics - which include a security pass used by one of the Twin Towers' workers - on the website for $1500 but yesterday he said he would de-list the auction. "There were no feelings of malice," he said.

Mr Single said he came across the items "in a moment of tidying up" and thought "they might be worth it to someone else".

Last night the auction was condemned by the National MP with responsibility for firefighters, Sandra Goudie.

She urged Mr Single to pull the sale and donate the items to a museum in Waikato at which visitors could pay their respects to the 2986 people who died on September 11, 2001.

"This is his private choice. He's a private individual. I wouldn't do it," said Mrs Goudie.

Labour Minister Rick Barker who oversees New Zealand's firefighters, refused to comment, saying he was not going to pass judgment on the tastes of others.

The Trade Me site lists the items under the title "Twin Towers 911". They were placed by Mr Single using his website username "coroman". The listing reads: "Glass, bolt and swipe card from the twin towers 911, These are real pieces from New York Marriott world trade center (sic).

"I received them from a firefighter in New York that attended the incident. I feel that someone that is into collectables would like them more than me having them stuck in a drawer."

Mr Single, who has served as a firefighter for 35 years, said he set the price at $1500 because he wanted a purchaser to put value on what they were buying. "I don't want to let it go at a silly value."

He said if the three items sold he intended using the money to pay for an airline ticket to fly a friend from the United States to New Zealand.

Mr Single said he felt a "huge bond" with the people who died in the September 11 terror attacks and the memorabilia "meant a lot to me". He held another piece of the World Trade Centre, which he intended keeping for himself.

"It means a lot to me that my mate gave it to me. I swear to God, that's all I keep it for."

He said he had two friends retire from the fire service in New York because of health impacts from the collapse of the Twin Towers. Another friend had lost his life in the attacks.

Mr Single said he believed people who collected items commemorating "drastic" world events - such as war memorabilia - might cherish the items.

He said he first listed the items for a week and received no interest. It wasn't until he received an email from a Trade Me member expressing an interest that he put the auction back on the site.

Roy Breeze, the Waikato chief fire officer, said he would look into the matter but didn't believe it was an employment issue.

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