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Retired FDNY Firefighter Tells Story of Ground Zero Search and Rescue Operations

In a recent online article and video, Fire Department of New York (FDNY) Deputy Assistant Chief (Ret.) John Norman told about the search and rescue operations conducted at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Norman talked to ( about the response. In the wake of the towers falling and the search and rescue that followed, Norman was put in charge of the search operation after those previously in this leadership position were killed.

“The thing I remember, besides the dust, is the papers. Paper everywhere. The whole graveyard here filled with paper,” Norman said as he revisted the scene 12 years later. “The whole street, everything is filled with paper from the tower.”

Read more of his account and watch the video at

Norman retired as deputy assistant chief from the FDNY, where he served 27 of his 40-plus years in the fire service. He attended Oklahoma State University, majoring in fire protection technology. He has a bachelor’s degree in fire service administration from Empire State College of the State University of New York. He is a graduate of the FDNY/Columbia University Fire Officers Management Institute. He has testified as an expert witness in state and federal court cases concerning fire operations. He was a consultant to the City of Chicago in the wake of the tragic Cook County Office Building fire. He has been an adjunct instructor at the Fire Academy on Randall’s Island and in the Rescue Specialist Training course given by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the nation’s 28 USAR teams.