News and Document archive source
copyrighted material disclaimer at bottom of page

NewsMine9-11 — Viewing Item

Ny fd releases 911 oral histories transmissions { August 12 2005 }

Original Source Link: (May no longer be active),0,1277670.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines,0,1277670.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

FDNY releases 9/11 oral histories, transmissions

August 12, 2005, 2:08 PM EDT

In gripping, vivid accounts of individual heroism and organizational chaos, firefighters describe their response to -- and escape from -- the World Trade Center in 12,000 pages of oral histories made public Friday.

The histories, recorded in the weeks after the Sept. 11 attack, offer some of the most detailed and intimate descriptions of the day's horror as seen through the eyes of the firefighters who made the iconic rush into the twin towers, and lost 343 of their brethren.

Firefighter Kirk Long, whose Engine 1 was sent to the World Trade Center's north tower -- the first to be struck by a plane and the second to collapse -- described rushing up a stairway as evacuees were coming down.

"I was watching every person coming down, looked at their face, just to make them happy that they were getting out and we were going in, and everything was OK," Long said in his oral history.

Emergency medical technician John Felidi recalled that when the south tower fell, "We heard a rumble. I heard the rumble and looked -- in the back of me all I seen was a monstrous -- I can't even describe it. A cloud. Looked like debris, dust."

And of the second collapse: "I never forget that sound. It sounded like a freight train passing by. I never forget that sound, never forget that sound. Like a freight train."

The oral histories were made public along with hours of Fire Department radio transmissions, their release compelled by a lawsuit filed three years ago by The New York Times and long contested by the city.

Some of the material had been released before, and the records released Friday were unlikely to fundamentally change the understanding of the Sept. 11 attack.

Still, the histories offer a poignant catalog of firefighters' still-fresh memories of the towers' horrifying collapse. And the radio transmissions added new texture to the historical record of the day, beginning at 8:46 a.m. with an urgent but calm description of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center.

"The World Trade Center tower Number One is on fire!" one firefighter radioed.

As the depth of the crisis became clear, the voices on the radios thickened with panic.

"Send every available ambulance, everything you got to the World Trade Center," a firefighter calls from Engine 1. "Now!"

Another firefighter, Maureen McArdle-Schulman, recalled hearing someone yell before the collapses that something was falling from the towers. She said she thought it might have been desks coming out.

"We didn't know what it was at first, but then the first body hit and then we knew what it was. And they were just like constant," she said. "I was getting sick. I felt like I was intruding on a sacrament. They were choosing to die and I was watching them and shouldn't have been. So me and another guy turned away and looked at a wall and we could still hear them hit."

The records shed some new light onto lingering questions and long-standing complaints about the response. Firefighters described faulty communications equipment and some disobeyed orders.

A group of victims' families who have become advocates of building code and emergency response reform had eagerly awaited the release of the new records in hopes they would challenge the notion that many firefighters in the north tower heard, but chose to ignore, an evacuation message issued after the south tower collapsed at 9:59 a.m.

Some city officials, including former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, have suggested some firefighters ignored the mayday call in acts of personal heroism. But the group of families has sought to lay blame on the city for providing firefighters with faulty radios.

At least one fire lieutenant, Gregg Hansson of Engine 34, said he heard the call to evacuate while he was on the 35th floor of the north tower, and saw his colleagues leaving.

"I was in the vicinity of the battalion chief, who was on the command channel, when I heard a mayday given over the command channel to evacuate the building," Hansson said in his oral history. "He started to tell everyone to evacuate, and I did also. I saw all the units get up, everybody got their gear, everybody started for the staircases to evacuate."

Another firefighter who was in the north tower, Paul Bessler, recalled seeing a fellow firefighter going up the stairs as though he was "on a mission."

"Just at that point, my radio came clear as day, 'Imminent collapse. This was a terrorist attack. Evacuate."'

"We relayed that again, hoping that the brothers would hear it above us, and I remember the look on Andy's face, like apprehension that we were going to leave this building," he continued. The north tower collapsed moments later.

The transcripts reinforce the perception that some firefighters throughout the trade center dropped protocol and simply acted according to their best instincts.

Firefighter Patrick Martin of Engine 229 said that after the south tower had collapsed and before the north tower came down, his lieutenant instructed him to go on a boat taking people to hospitals across the Hudson River.

"I told him I wasn't leaving," Martin said. "We were still missing one guy."

Sept. 11 family members pored over the records Friday, some tearing up at descriptions and sounds of the attack and response.

At an office building in midtown Manhattan, a half-dozen family members and two fire officers bent over laptops to examine the material.

"It's very emotional. It's very difficult," said Sally Regenhard, mother of 28-year-old Christian Regenhard, killed along with most of his company's firefighters that day. "But it's no harder than knowing every day that my son is gone."

The New York Times and families of Sept. 11 victims sued the city in 2002 to release the records, which were collected by the Fire Department in the days after the collapse of the twin towers.

The city withheld them, claiming the release would violate firefighters' privacy and jeopardize the prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui, who ultimately pleaded guilty to conspiring with the Sept. 11 hijackers.

In March, the state's highest court ordered the city to release the oral histories and radio transmissions but said the city could edit out potentially painful and embarrassing portions.

The Fire Department, in a statement, said it hoped the release of the records would not cause firefighters and their families additional pain.

"The Department believes that the materials being released today ... will serve to further confirm the bravery and courage of our members who responded to the World Trade Center," the statement said.

105 terrorists visas
9 11 commision { May 23 2003 }
9 11 terror attack binladen
911 flight controller handled egypt air flight 990
911 gas theory
911 suspect related wtc93 plotter { June 5 2002 }
911 widow ellen mariani letter to bush { December 1 2003 }
Air traffic controllers recall events { September 11 2002 }
Bush attends 911 memorial then fundraiser
Bush reaction { December 4 2001 }
Car bomb explodes outside state department on september 11
Cheney recalls taking charge from bunker { September 11 2001 }
Congress to investigating 911 loan abuses { September 9 2005 }
Day of the attack
Debunking conspiracy theorists
Evidence shows 911 attacks were delayed
Fbi grabs ap fedex document { May 8 2003 }
Fbi john oneill gets his own mini series { May 2 2005 }
Federal protective services deny car bomb occured
From the cockpits
Goss refuses to discipline cia officials for 911 lapse { October 5 2005 }
Government denies access to 911 tapes and transcripts { February 9 2005 }
Investigating the hijackings { July 23 2004 }
John oneill { September 12 2001 }
Man claims living wife died on 911 { February 5 2004 }
Nearly half newyork dead not identified
Need new pearl harbor { September 11 2001 }
New 911 cia report finds fault with cia officials { August 26 2005 }
Non arabic { September 19 2002 }
Number of rny dead 2000 less tally { October 26 2001 }
Ny fd releases 911 oral histories transmissions { August 12 2005 }
Palestinians candy
Pilots of hijacked flights on 911
Port authority releases 911 transcipts { August 29 2003 }
Pre attack { September 26 2001 }
Rare tape of wtc attacks surfaces
Reichstag fire { September 13 2002 }
Six years later bush consistently cites 911
Sora friedman
Sound recorded { August 7 2002 }
Springsteen sings { July 30 2002 }
Tumbling woman art [jpg]
Tumbling woman art { September 18 2002 }
Two white suspects in bin laden probe
Wash post offers free ads for 911 pentagon event { August 16 2005 }
Wtc_devil [jpg]

Files Listed: 47


CIA FOIA Archive

National Security
Support one-state solution for Israel and Palestine Tea Party bumper stickers JFK for Dummies, The Assassination made simple