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I worked the night before and saw the coverage on television. We were dispatched to Engine 35 in Manhattan as a staging area with Engine 50, 64 and 83. Inside the firehouse we heard the Pentagon had been attacked. The engines were on East 124th Street. We refueled the rig. We were part of five engines dispatched. We all called our wives on the way downtown. We parked on West Street. We were carrying our rollups and our standpipe kit.
We were about one or two blocks away when the tower came down. We ran - the dust was 12 stories high - and we ducked into a storefront. It was totally dark. We were covered in debris. I was throwing up; so was Dominick Carrone. The probie jumped into a van that was going by and headed north. The next time we saw him he was clean and we were filthy.
You could only hear PASS devices activating, there were no conversations. Everyone was stunned. I thanked God that I was all right. People started coming out who needed our help. A firefighter who was bleeding was carried past us. We helped Pat Carey from Engine 74 and a civilian who had a broken leg into an ambulance. We saw Chief Telesca being carried by two firefighters.
You could hear other collapses. There was no command post, and there was an absence of communications. Someone called the firehouse and told them to write on the blackboard that we had survived the collapse and we're all accounted for.
We were near building 7 when it collapsed later. We had just seen a civilian carrying fire tools and clothing and placing them in a van. He had apparently stolen the items off apparatus. We just grabbed him when building 7 collapsed. We ran to safety, and the last we saw the police had him in custody after the collapse.
When we arrived, we had no hesitation. We were going to walk in and do what we had to do when the building came down. I had worked on the rotation in Engine 40 and Ladder 35 - 11 members were killed in that house.
Firefighter Dan Potter Ladder 31 (was detailed to Ladder 10 on 9/11)
I took a detail to Ladder 10, as they were looking for senior people to work in lower Manhattan. I live only a few blocks from the World Trade Center. Ladder 10 is located across the street from the south tower. I was in a promotional class on Staten Island with Lieutenant Harvey Harrell of Rescue 5. Someone came into class and said that a jet had struck the World Trade Center. You could see smoke. My wife works in one of the towers.
Tower Ladder 124 from Brooklyn operates on Liberty Street near the firehouse of Engine 10/Ladder 10. Note the damage across the street. The apparatus remained in this position for three days.
I left class and got in the high-occupancy lane on the highway. As I approached Albany and West streets, body parts were all over the area. An ambulance was nearby that had been hit by pieces of the aircraft. I saw Ladder 4 across the street near the south tower. I met Captain Mallory of Ladder 10. I asked him to get some spare tools out of the equipment locker. Firefighter Pete Bielfeld of Ladder 42 came in and borrowed some gear. Pete asked if I was ready to go, I said I'm waiting to get some tools.
A civilian was injured and I helped him inside the apparatus floor. The doors were open. The south tower collapsed. The wind and dust blew through the firehouse. I covered the man as best as I could. I could hardly breathe. I was able to get the man into the kitchen in the rear. The force of the wind blew out the kitchen windows. I left the man for EMS.
I went out the back door of the firehouse and into the large bank in a high-rise across the street. I knew there was a day care center there. There was a lot of damage to the lobby. I met Fire Marshal Mel Hazel inside. I was in the company, Ladder 31, before my detail that Hazel also used to be in at one time.