Volpe participated in the recovery effort for five months. Then he went back to his work at the 41st Precinct in the Bronx.
In 2004, he began to notice that he was getting winded much more quickly than he used to.
He consulted a doctor, who told him he'd lost 53 percent of his kidney function.
He faces a future of dialysis, and with some luck, an eventual kidney transplant.
"I'm basically waiting," he said. "Today I am fine. … Tomorrow I could [have] kidney failure, and then it means dialysis until they completely fail and I need a transplant."
He said there's a five-year waiting list for a new kidney.
"There's no telling how much longer I will live."
"I actually asked an EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] guy and … he looked [to me] like he was going to the moon, dressed up," Volpe said. "And he had this meter in his hand and he's walking around with it and I went up to the guy and I said, 'What's wrong with this picture?'"
"I said, 'Look what you're wearing and look what I'm wearing. What's going on here?'" Volpe said. "And he just didn't even answer me, he just walked away."
With additional reporting by Jennifer Wlach, "Good Morning America"