FDNY In 'Disarray' On 9/11, Von Essen Says In Memoirs

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The Fire Department was "in complete disarray" just after the World Trade Center was attacked on September 11, former Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen writes in his forthcoming memoirs.

In his new book, entitled 'Strong of Heart," Von Essen says he frequently lost his temper because of the lack of information in the immediate aftermath, adding that many top officials were missing and that firefighters at the scene knew less than people watching on television.

The memoir, due in bookstores next month, covers all of Von Essen’s 32 years in the Fire Department, including his time as a firefighter and union president, as well as his sometimes contentious six years as commissioner. But the first half focuses on how the FDNY dealt with the worst disaster in its history and the death of 343 firefighters.

Von Essen’s account of the World Trade Center attack and its aftermath is the most extensive yet from a top city official. Former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik’s memoir, written before September 11 but published afterwards, has an addendum chapter dealing with the disaster.

Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani also has a deal to publish his memoirs.