9/11: Five Years Later, a Reflection by Firehouse Magazine's Editor in Chief

Having gone to my first FDNY incident in December 1960 and being an honorary assistant chief in the FDNY, I knew, met or made acquaintance with at least 93 members of the department who were killed on 9/11.The deadliest terrorist attacks on U.S. soil made...

Deputy Chief (now retired Chief of Department) Peter Hayden described the collapse of 7 World Trade Center. "It seemed like a somewhat smaller event, but under any normal circumstances, that's a major event, a 47-story building collapsing," he said. "It seemed like a firecracker after the other ones came down, but I mean it was quite an event. But having gone through the other two, it didn't seem so bad." (A complete interview with Chief Hayden appeared in the April 2002 issue of Firehouse Magazine.

"We had just arrived and we walking toward the South Tower," said Lieutenant Ray Brown of Ladder 113, when he "heard incredible explosions. I looked up and I thought fire was breaking out on the upper floors. The debris starting hitting us. I ran and people to my left and right were getting hit with debris. I'm sure they were getting killed. I hid behind a wall. My mouth filled with the dust. I couldn't breathe. All of a sudden, it was pitch black. I thought it was the end of the world. I made it back to my rig. It was on fire as well as many ambulances. After the collapse of the first tower, firefighters from Engine 58 told us their lieutenant was trapped in the Marriott Hotel. There were a lot of ducts, pipes, aluminum and shelves. There were heating and ventilation ducts, just a tremendous amount of debris, (as) if you took an accordion and you squished it completely and then tried to cut a piece out of it."

Brown continued, "We were talking to the lieutenant. He said there were two chiefs and a company trapped behind him. We were able to get about 10 feet in the pile. We had five to seven feet to cut. The guy next to me says, you were in Rescue 1, weren't you? I said, yeah I was in Rescue 1, but I never saw anything like this. I don't care how many years you spent in any rescue company, this was just beyond anybody's capability. The second tower came down and I was thrown 15 to 20 feet across the room. I was carried from the hotel and remember waking up six hours later in the hospital in New Jersey."