Editorial: 9/11: We Will Never Forget

It is almost hard to believe that we are approaching the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attack on 9/11. We remember all those first responders who died in the line of duty as well as the innocent victims who died in the attacks at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. As feared, many of the first responders working at the World Trade Center over months to search for survivors, victims and loved ones have developed or are starting to develop an assortment of health-related problems. Our hope is that the people affected will, first of all, be acknowledged for having been stricken at the WTC and, second, that they will be cared for.

Many people complain that because of typical political agendas, there are no memorials, buildings or appropriate legislation to cover these health-related problems. Just as we went to press, New York Governor George Pataki signed into law a bill to cover those first responders who have medical problems after working at Ground Zero. Many thought they were going to forget.

In this issue, Contributing Editor Vincent Dunn reviews the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Final Report on the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers, from the perspective of a veteran fire chief. See page 24 for Chief Dunn's comprehensive analysis and suggestions. Also, see page 62 for a tribute to those who were lost that day and the valiant responders who worked at Ground Zero.

The heat is still on in many parts of the country. The current wildland season is shaping up to be way above average. The average number of fires over a 10-year period is 51,346 and number of acres burned is 3,564,198. As of Aug. 16, there have been 76,089 fires that have burned 6,305,082 acres. On one day, 55 large fires were burning in 14 states, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center.

In a span of 19 days, 10 firefighters died in the line of duty. Six were associated with aircraft crashes at wildland incidents. At this writing, 62 firefighters have paid the supreme sacrifice this year. Despite all we continue to do — safety stand downs, education, and increased training and awareness — more must be done to stop these senseless deaths. If everyone treated the next run as his or her last, maybe something can be done.

In Close Calls this month, Chief Billy Goldfeder discusses a floor collapse. After reading his column, I received a report about two firefighters in Green Bay, WI, who fell through a floor at a house fire; one escaped, one died. While talking with District Chief Chris E. Mickal on the telephone, he told me that four New Orleans firefighters recently fell through a floor at a multiple-alarm fire; one firefighter suffered serious injuries. Captured on video, two Phoenix firefighters narrowly missed serious injury when a section of roof collapsed.

With more emphasis on using lightweight building materials in new construction, including the use of glue instead of gusset plates to hold lightweight trusses together, you can anticipate more collapses than ever before under heavy fire conditions. Think about this when you make your decision to go offensive or defensive.

We congratulate Robert S. Hoff, who was recently promoted to assistant deputy fire commissioner of the Chicago Fire Department, and John Hawkins, selected to be the chief of the Riverside County, CA, Fire Department. Best of luck to these well-qualified firefighters.

Congratulations also are in order to Jay K. Bradish, Rick McClure, Chris E. Mickal and Martin Nate Rawner, who earned honors in the recent IAFF 2005 Media Awards Contest.

Finally, we draw your attention to a safety campaign that we just initiated, based on an idea brought to us from Mike Wilbur, who saw a similar safety message while he was visiting the Cheshire, CT, Fire Department. You can take the safety cling out of the magazine on page 45 and affix it to the inside of your firehouse.