Chief Burns, FDNY, was one of 346 fire fighters killed in the attack on the New York Twin Towers on 9/11/01. Burns had set up a command post at the foot of the World Trade Center just minutes before the first tower collapsed. At his Memorial Service at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Chief Burns was hailed as an "exceptional" leader within the department and was fondly remembered as a "walking encyclopedia" for his vast knowledge of the city. Fellow fire fighters respected him as a brilliant tactician and strategist. He was a decorated 39-year veteran of the department, was elevated to lieutenant and later captain before being named chief of operations shortly after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. In 1997 he was promoted to City Wide Tour Commander.