Fire Engineering Digest of NYC/Washington D.C. Tragedies

Compiled by Mary Jane Dittmar and Chris Mc Loone

September 12, 2001

Giuliani Reconfirms Number of Dead

CNN reports that New York City Mayor Giuliani has confirmed that the number of dead is now at 80.

Death Toll Rises in NYC; Secondary Collapse of South Tower

UPDATE: 10:38 PM–1 Liberty Plaza has been deemed safe and the triage center that had been evacuated from it is now stationed there again.

Fox News reports that there are now 55 confirmed dead in New York City.

Also, on September 12, the four remaining floors of the South Tower collpased, sending rescue crews and news agencies away from the area. At least two other buildings are feared to be on the verge of collapse. As of 9:19 PM, rescue teams were back in the midst of their search for survivors.

Conflicting Reports about What Buildings are Near Collapse

UPDATE: 1010 AM in New York City reports that there was a secondary collapse of the South Tower, and that Bldg. 5 is in danger of collapse. Also, reports indicate that 1 Liberty Plaza is in danger of collapse. CNN reports a partial collapse of 1 Liberty Plaza. All rescue personnel and news agencies have been relocated in the city.

UPDATE: There are conflicting reports as to which building is on the verge of collapse. The Millennium Building is said to be buckling, and a 40-story building near 1 Liberty Plaza is said to be near collapse.

CNN is reporting at 5:26 PM that another building is near collapse. The building is 1 Liberty Plaza and officials are right now moving all officials away from the area. CNN reports the building is on the verge of collapse. Rescue workers are among officials being moved away from the area to safety.

FEMA Continues To Respond To Apparent Terrorist Attacks In New York, Washington, D.C.–Disaster Declaration For New York Terrorist Attack

Washington, D.C., September 12, 2001 — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to assist state and local officials in New York and Washington D.C., in the aftermath of apparent terrorist events in those two localities. FEMA is working closely with the White House to coordinate and manage the consequences of the events. The Department of Justice has immediate responsibility for crisis management. Highlights of the federal response:

* The President has granted a major disaster declaration for individual and public assistance, as requested by the governor of New York. The declaration includes Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens and Richmond counties.

* Gov. Gilmore has requested an emergency declaration for Arlington County. A declaration decision is pending.

* FEMA’s Washington-based Emergency Response Team (EST) is fully activated and on 24-hour operations.

* FEMA is establishing a mobilization center in Washington D.C., at Anacostia Naval Station.

* A FEMA liaison is staffing the FBI Strategic Information Operations Center, in Washington, D.C., to help coordinate information.

* All 10 FEMA regions – headquartered in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Denton, Tex., Kansas City, Kan., Denver, San Francisco and Bothell, Wash. – are fully activated.

* FEMA has activated the Federal Response Plan, which brings together 28 federal agencies and the American Red Cross to assist local and state governments in response to national emergencies and disasters.

* The Red Cross has opened 12 shelters in New York City – 10 for the public and one each for families of firefighters and police. An additional 15 shelters have been opened in New Jersey. In Arlington, Va., two shelters have been opened. Mental health workers are on site to aid and counsel rescue workers. Family support centers have been opened at Ft. Belvoir, Walter Reed and Bethesda Medical Centers.

* Families seeking information about missing family members are directed to call their local Red Cross offices for assistance.

* Advance elements of an Emergency Response Team are at a mobilization center in Edison, N.J. An interim disaster field office has been set up in Arlington, Va.

* FEMA has deployed eight Urban Search & Rescue teams (US&R) to New York City to search for victims in the affected buildings. US&R teams are specially trained teams that include engineers and other technical experts as well as specially trained search dogs. Another four teams have been deployed to the Pentagon, for search and rescue efforts there. Four other teams are standing by.

* The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is deploying a planning cell specializing in debris removal to New York City. Structural assessment teams are standing by in case needed. Additional debris planning cells will be deployed to Virginia once air restrictions are lifted.

* EPA Regions I and II are working to address potential air quality issues resulting from the release of asbestos within the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

* Four disaster medical teams and three disaster mortuary teams are being deployed to New York. Three disaster medical team and four disaster mortuary teams are stationed in Washington, D.C. to be deployed to the Pentagon, if necessary.

* People in the declared disaster counties in New York who are in need of temporary housing assistance, loans to replace personal property destroyed by the collapse of the World Trade Center, crisis counseling or other immediate disaster-related needs should call the FEMA toll-free number to register for assistance, 800-462-9029.

* FEMA’s immediate priorities are to render all possible federal help to affected states and communities; identify, extract and treat injured survivors in collapsed structures; deploy response support teams; establish on-site facilities to support response operations; and establish and provide support to victims and their families.


Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta has announced the Federal Aviation Administration will allow a limited reopening of the nation’s commercial airspace system in order to allow flights that were diverted yesterday to continue to their original destinations.

The Secretary also announced that the FAA is temporarily extending the ground stop order imposed yesterday while additional security measures are being completed.

“Safety is always of paramount importance, and in these extraordinary times we intend to be vigilant,” Mineta said. “We remain committed to resuming commercial flights as soon as possible.

“As the President said last night, these despicable terrorist attacks have shaken the foundation of our greatest buildings, but have not shaken the foundation of this great nation,” the Secretary said. “As America watches the efforts of our heroic emergency responders and rescue personnel, we keep the victims and their families in our prayers,” he also said.

Mineta said the FAA would permit flights today only in special limited circumstances. Flights diverted as a result of yesterday’s order will be allowed to continue to their original destination under vastly tightened security guidelines. Only passengers on the original flights will be allowed to re-board, and only after airports and airlines have implemented strict screening measures. Airlines will also be allowed to reposition empty aircraft, he said.

Mineta said a variety of stepped-up security measures will be instituted at the airports once they re-open. These measures include:

* A thorough search and security check of all airplanes and airports before passengers are allowed to enter and board aircraft.

* We will discontinue curbside check-in at the airport. We would ask that all passengers go to the ticket counters to check in.

* We will also discontinue off-airport check in. We can no longer allow passengers to check in for their flights at hotels or other venues. Passengers must check in at the airports.

* We must reserve boarding areas for passengers only. Only ticketed passengers will be allowed to proceed past airport screeners to catch their flights.

* Vehicles near airport terminals will be monitored more closely.

“I know all Americans want us to move as quickly and prudently as possible to return our transportation system to normal,” Mineta said, “and we will as soon as we can do so safely.”

Chiefs, First Deputy Fire Commissioner Among Confirmed Dead in NYC

New York – Chief Peter Ganci, Deputy Fire Commissioner William Feehan, and Chief of Rescue Ray Downey are among those firefighters confirmed dead after yesterday’s carnage in New York City, Newsday reports.

Peter Ganci was promoted to Chief of Department in 1999. He was 54 years old and leaves behind children who are firefighters.

First Deputy Commissioner of the Department Feehan was 72 years old and often was called on to conduct the department’s press conferences.

Chief of Rescue Ray Downey was well known in the industry and a popular officer among FDNY personnel. Ray Downey was a battalion chief, chief of rescue operations, and a 40-year veteran of the Fire Department of New York. The former captain of Rescue Company 2, he was the USAR task force leaders representative to FEMA for all 27 teams and was a member of FEMA’s Advisory Committee. Downey was also the author of the book The Rescue Company, the video Rescue Operational Planning: Factors for Success, and the video series Collapse Rescue for the Fire Service, published by Fire Engineering. He was a member of the FDIC educational committee, and a H.O.T. class instructor and presenter at FDIC shows. Downey directed the emergency efforts after the bombings in Oklahoma City, and at the World Trade Center in 1993, as well as after hurricanes in the Dominican Republic and elsewhere. He was at the scene yesterday when the towers collapsed. Evidently, he survived the first tower collapse, but was trapped when the second tower collapsed. His two sons were both on the job yesterday.

Earlier today, five firefighters and one police officer were recovered form the rubble.

Keep checking back for more updates throughout the day.

ABC News reports 41 civilians have been recovered and Mayor Guiliani has stated that 202 firefighters are missing.

Also confirmed dead is Rev. Mychal Judge, 68, chaplain of the New York City Fire Department.

Pentagon–200 Missing or Dead

ABC News now reports that Pentagon officials estimate that there are 200 missing or dead as a result of yesterday’s attack on the Pentagon.

Pentagon Fire Still Burns

ABC News reports that the Pentagon fire is still burning. The structural integrity of the building is a concern, and is hampering efforts to get inside the building to perform search and rescue. Keep checking back for more updates.

Fire Breaks out near WTC Complex

FDNY has been notified that a fire has broken out on the roof of a building near the scene of yesterday’s tragedy. The already stressed fire department has been dispatched to the scene and the fire is a high-rise fire. A police helicopter spotted the fire and reported that it was spreading rapidly. The building is in a primairly residential area.

Five Firefighters, One Officer Found Alive

ABC News reports at 7:45 AM that five firefighters and one officer have been found alive in void spaces within the rubble. More informatoin to come as today’s events unfold.

World Trade Center/Washinton D.C. Tragedies–What We Know

On September 11, four airliners were hijacked. Two of these jets were used to crash into the World Trade Center’s twin towers. Another was used to crash into the Pentagon. The fourth crashed in Pennsylvania, but it is thought that it was headed for Camp David or the White House.

The Twin Towers are now no more. After the planes collided with the towers and the subsequent fires, both towers collapsed, killing thousands. The exact death toll is not yet known, but there are reports of 200 firefighters missing and presumed dead. Building 7 of the World Trade Center complex has also collapsed, and it is feared that the structural integrity of Building 5 has been compromised. A Mariott Hotel was also on the verge of collapse.

The Pentagon was the target of the third plane. It hit the Pentagon and burst into flames. As of 10:00 PM EST on September 11, one part of the Pentagon was still burning, and part of it had collapsed.

The cleanup after this tragedy is expected to take days.

September 11, 2001

Building #7 on Fire–Near Collapse

New York, NY�At approximately 4:12 PM, CNN reports that Building #7 in the World Trade Center Complex has caught fire and could possible collapse.

UPDATE: CNN now reports that Building #7 has collapsed. 6:41 PM, 9/11/01.


New York Governor Pataki has announced that the New York National Guard has been activated and will be arriving in the city to relieve emergency responders. Also, Federal Emergency Management Agency Urban Search and Rescue teams have been requested.


It is anticipated that some 20,000 people were in the area of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center at the time of the attacks. It is not known how many were in the towers at the time they collapsed.

Mayor Guiliani expressed concern also for police officers and firefighters attempting rescues within the towers before the collapse.

Four commercial airliners–two American Airlines and two United Airlines–reportedly were hijacked. One of those planes, an American Airlines jet departing from Boston with 81 aboard, crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Another jet was said to have hit the Pentagon. Part of the Pentagon collapsed, and Pentagon employees reportedly are being treated at Washington, D.C.-area hospitals.


As a precaution, government, business, and other facilities across the country have been shut down and evacuated.

–All federal buildings have been shut down.

–Los Angeles International Airport, the proposed destination for three of the hijacked airliners, has been evacuated.

–Disney World in Orlando, Florida, has been evacuated.

–NATO has asked that all nonessential employees leave its headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

–Among New York City buildings closed are the New York Stock Exchange, the Empire State Building, and the United Nations Building.

Borders between Mexico and Canada have been sealed; guards are on high alert.

All international flights are being diverted to Canada.

F-16s were patrolling air space around New York City, on the alert for any planes. All air transportation in the country was shut down. Flying planes would be considered suspect.

Reportedly, there were several airplane crashes in other areas of the country. One was in Pennsylvania. Another was believed to be in Virginia.


New York City has put out a call for all its 911 dispatchers, police officers, and firefighters to report for duty. There is also a need for medical personnel. Blood supplies in the city are depleted. Donors are asked to go to their nearest hospital to give blood.


In circumstances described as “horrific,” witnesses to the devastation that occurred in New York City today gave riveting glimpses of the scene.

Joe Torres, ABC news reporter, and a camera man described how they ran for their lives from the World Trade Center. They were two blocks away from the site when the first tower collapsed. “We heard a rumble; it felt like an earthquake,” the men, still short of breath, said. They ran five or six blocks. “It was like out of movie,” Torres said. “We are looking over our shoulders. The smoke was following us. The top of the tower was disintegrating before our eyes …”

Others described the atmosphere as being filled with what looked like “volcanic ash,” a thick layer of dust. Civilians and rescuers were covered with grey dust; many of them were wearing some types of coverings/masks

NYC Under Full Terrorism Alert

New York City. Sept. 11, 2001. Two airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center. A small plane was seen flying into the North Tower. A larger plane, identified by some witnesses as a twin-engine jet, hit the south side of the South Tower. Dense black smoke and flames are pouring out of the gaping holes in each of the towers. The fire reportedly is spreading through the building between floors 70 and 80. The superstructure is described as �hanging.� The South Tower of the Trade Center building just collapsed.

The FBI is investigating reports of the highjacking of a plane before the second crash. President Bush has attributed the crashes to �an apparent terrorist attack.�

All three local airports, tunnels, and the Port Authority Building have been shut down. Air space over New York City has been officially frozen. The United Nations building, New York Stock Exchange, and other prominent buildings have been evacuated.

The story is still unfolding. The latest unconfirmed revelation identifies one of the planes as an American Airlines 767 that departed from Boston.

Fire Department of New York has put out a call for all off-duty members.

There is no word yet about casualties. Some occupants were seen running from the building. Some were screaming. There are reports of casualties trickling into area hospitals.

In other breaking news, it was reported that a large airliner hit the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. There is a fire and was an explosion. The building has been evacuated, as has the Treasury and State Department Buildings.

The White House has been evacuated amid reports of threats of terrorism there.

The FAA has closed all airports across the country. In Chicago, the Sears Tower is being evacuation as a precaution.

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