9-11 Issue Introduction - Part V

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? Hayden: I was...

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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?

Hayden: I was continuing on. I worked the night before. I was in my office when I heard a plane coming in low.

Firehouse: You heard the plane come over?

Hayden: Yeah, I looked out the window. I really couldn't see anything because the building lines obstructed the view, but I heard the crash and I knew right away what it was. I heard the radio right away. I heard Joe Pfeifer, who was already out on the box before I even got out of the office, transmit the third alarm for a plane hitting the Trade Center and he set up a staging area at West and Vesey. I yelled to my aide, come on, let's go and we started out down toward lower Manhattan.

Firehouse: Was that Chris Waugh? Is he your aide?

Hayden: Chris, yes.

Firehouse: How many years are you in Division 1?

Firehouse Collection
After the collapse of both towers, Deputy Chief Peter Hayden operated at West and Liberty streets. At one point, to gain control of the incoming troops, he gathered everyone around, had them take their helmets off and said a prayer. Organization and control were then restored.

Hayden: Continually since 1997, I was back in Division 1, but I had been in Division 1 prior, from 1993 to '95. From '95 to '97, I was the chief of safety for the fire department. From '90 to '93 ,I was a battalion chief in the 2nd Battalion. So since 1990, I've been working down in First Division.

Firehouse: Were you working for the explosion in 1993?

Hayden: At the Trade Center, yeah. I wasn't on duty specifically, but I came in. I was with the 2nd Battalion then.

Firehouse: Were you there for any other major fires or emergencies?

Hayden: Oh, yeah. The most recent one was pretty memorable. We had people trapped in an elevator, with a partial failure of the elevator. We got several people out of the elevator. I think it was on the 78th floor. Pretty hairy rescue operation by the rescue company. It really was.

Firehouse: As you were responding on Sept. 11, what could you see?

Hayden: We went down Broadway, then down Canal and onto West. I saw a large column of smoke surrounding the entire top portion of the building. I didn't see any flame. I didn't see any holes or anything. All I saw was the top portion of it covered in smoke. I asked to verify the assignment with the dispatcher. He alerted me that a third alarm was in. I think he was saying that some rescue was not available, and did I need a third one? I said send them.

Firehouse: As you responded in, where did you park?

Hayden: We parked out on West Street by Vesey. We walked in.

Firehouse: Was debris coming down? Was anybody jumping?

Hayden: There was debris coming down. There were a number of people out in the street who were burned. The front windows of the lobby were all blown out, broken. It was chaos. When we were moving to the lobby, there was a lot of damage in the lobby, some people screaming.

Firehouse: Do you remember the extent of the damage?

Hayden: All the marble tiles were off the wall and smashed on the floor.

Firehouse: The people who were burned, were they badly burned?

Hayden: They were conscious and walking, but they were pretty badly burned. There were at least half a dozen of them.

Firehouse: When you went inside, did you go right through the glass or did you go in through the concourse?

Hayden: I went through a door. I don't know why, but I came in through the door. I went to the left. When I went in, the lobby was to the left. I met up with Joe Pfeifer. He started to brief me on what he had. We already knew that the other plane had struck. And we went through the problem that we were having. They were trying to find an elevator that was working. We were trying to delineate what was going to be the attack stairs, what stage of evacuation have we gotten to, any reports of evacuation and what assignments were made. Port Authority officials were on the scene. We told them to begin evacuating not only the north tower, but the whole World Trade Center complex, start moving everybody out and away.

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