From the April 2002 Firehouse Magazine
Firefighter Adam Mazy Tower Ladder 79 - 4 years was at Engine 3 on 9/11
I worked the night tour. I was scheduled for overtime in Engine 34 on the day tour. I was walking toward my car when the first plane hit. The announcement came over the voice alarm. Engine 3 and the high-rise unit received a ticket to respond. The officer wouldn’t let me ride. He said proceed to Engine 34. When I arrived at Engine 34, Engine 34 and Ladder 21 had already responded to the Trade Center. I jumped aboard Engine 26, who was sharing the firehouse because their station is under renovation. When we arrived, I didn’t have a mask, so I went looking for Engine 34. I took the chauffeur’s mask from Engine 3. I couldn’t find Engine 34, so I went into the lobby of the north tower, then into the lobby of the hotel. Both lobbies were filled with firefighters.
In the hotel I met Ladder 12, who shares the firehouse with Engine 3. The company was told to switch to channel 2, the channel for the south tower, and search upstairs from the 14th floor. We walked upstairs and searched the 14th floor. We went into a room and took a break. I put some water on my face. I looked out a rear window and saw 10 or 15 bodies lying in the courtyard. Earlier, I had seen people jumping.
We searched floor 15, then we split into two teams. One team searched 16 and the other 17, then we regrouped. I opened the door to floor 19. The south tower started to collapse. It sounded like a bowling ball. I thought it might have been a bomb under the building like in 1993. I felt the wind – it sounded like all the doors were slamming closed. The wind came from above us. It threw us down the C stairs at the southernmost end of the hotel.
We started to make our way down when we received a Mayday. A firefighter from a ladder company was separated from his unit. He didn’t know where he was. He had fallen a distance and was losing consciousness. Debris was blocking all the floors in the hallway. At the fifth floor debris blocked the stairway. We came upon several civilians who were located on the fifth floor. Entering the southernmost room, all you could see was white. It was quiet. There were little pockets of fire visible outside. The windows were broken. We figured the only way out was the window. The lieutenant and one firefighter were going to go back up to 19 to get the roof rope that was dropped and check again for the Mayday.
We ran into a firefighter, possibly from Engine 65. He had 50 feet of 21¼2-inch hose from a standpipe pack. If we did use the hose to go out the window, it would only leave us at the third floor. Firefighters were able to clear the debris in the stairway and made it to the fourth floor. Outside the debris was so close to the hotel that you could just about walk out onto the debris. Another firefighter from Ladder 12 decided to go and assist the two members who went back upstairs. We heard over the radio that they did make it back upstairs.
Now the second tower collapsed. I tried to get back inside and dove in under a staircase with another firefighter from Ladder 12. The building shook, it was dark. We were buried underneath the stairs trapped under sheetrock and light sheet metal. I made a space large enough to crawl out.
The I-beams that were too far away after the first collapse were now propped up against the hotel. Before you would have had to jump to the beam, now you were able to slide down. The civilians were assisted down 30 or 40 feet. I fell off the beam. Something tore off my mask. I had to crawl hand over foot up and down over the debris. I traveled south and then west to the Hudson River.
I had wondered if I ever would go to a job where a firefighter died. That morning, I saw people jumping, I thought someone might die. Before 9/11, 13 firefighters died since I came on the job.