Deputy Chief Peter Hayden

From the April 2002 Firehouse Magazine Deputy Chief Peter Hayden Division 1 - 33 years Firehouse: Were you in quarters when you heard the incident come in?Hayden: I was in quarters, yes. Firehouse: Were you just getting off or just coming in?

Firehouse: From that point, if you took a panoramic sweep, what could you see? There’s debris. There’s dust. How about the building at 90 West? Could you see that? Did it have a fire in there right away?

Hayden: We had a good fire in there. We had the equivalent of a fourth-alarm fire in there. We had fire in 50 and 7 World Trade Center. We had fire in 90 West. We had a smaller fire in one of the apartments in Battery Park City that we dispatched companies up there to put out. We had a water supply problem because I remember the water main was broken. Actually, to get water over in our sector over there at West and Liberty we got one of the fireboats to draft for us. It turned out it was the retired John J. Harvey that started drafting for us. That’s what got us water. When somebody total me the Harvey was pumping water, I said the Harvey? Thank God it was there because it pumped for us for about three to five days. Chief Mosier took the operations in 90 West. I gave him X amount of companies. I said just hold it, keep her from jumping the street. The Marriott Hotel was across the street. I said just don’t let it get out of the building here, just try to confine it, and he did a great job up there. They got some lines. They were able to hold it and contain it.

Firehouse: The building just south of that was the Marriott.

Hayden: Across the street. That’s what I was concerned about, that the fire would jump the streets. We had exposure problems, so Bobby’s function was just to contain the fire there. They had a big air shaft in there and he was able to get a line across the shaft and keep it in one wing of the building on the upper floors. And eventually it burned itself out. There was a good fire condition. It was pouring smoke and fire out of there. We were going to a fourth-alarm fire there. If you had to really address this fire, you would be trying to handle it as a fourth alarmer and he had nowhere near that, so he did a good job with that. We also were doing searches along all the debris in front of the Marriott and out on West Street, the void searches.

Firehouse: Other people tell me that there were a lot of firefighters in the street who were visible, and they put out traffic cones to mark them off?

Hayden: Yeah. There was enough there and we were marking off. There were a lot of damaged apparatus there that were covered. We tried to get searches in those areas. By now, this is going on into the afternoon, and we were concerned about additional collapse, not only of the Marriott, because there was a good portion of the Marriott still standing, but also we were pretty sure that 7 World Trade Center would collapse. Early on, we saw a bulge in the southwest corner between floors 10 and 13, and we had put a transit on that and we were pretty sure she was going to collapse. You actually could see there was a visible bulge, it ran up about three floors. It came down about 5 o’clock in the afternoon, but by about 2 o’clock in the afternoon we realized this thing was going to collapse.

Firehouse: Was there heavy fire in there right away?

Hayden: No, not right away, and that’s probably why it stood for so long because it took a while for that fire to develop. It was a heavy body of fire in there and then we didn’t make any attempt to fight it. That was just one of those wars we were just going to lose. We were concerned about the collapse of a 47-story building there. We were worried about additional collapse there of what was remaining standing of the towers and the Marriott, so we started pulling the people back after a couple of hours of surface removal and searches along the surface of the debris. We started to pull guys back because we were concerned for their safety.

Firehouse: Jay Jonas told me that at one point, when he had finally made his way out of the debris, you were standing on top of a truck?