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You have preconceived notions of people. I had high expectations for him and he far exceeded them. He was great. Mikhail Gorbachev was great. I was sitting with Professor Robert Gallo, who identified the AIDS virus. I was sitting with a physicist from Vienna who was able to transport matter, like beam me up, Scotty. I just happened to think, boy, my high school physics teacher probably never thought I would have amounted to anything and I'm sitting with two Nobel Prize winners. But it was quite an experience. You know who was also good was Sir Richard Branson from England, the guy who owns Virgin Atlantic Airways. He was tremendous.
The whole organization, they were very happy to have me there. I gave a nice speech and it worked out good. Vienna's a beautiful city. If I wasn't for this, I probably never would have gone there, but what a fabulous city. Really nice.
Lieutenant Glenn Rohan Ladder 43
I heard the attack. Both rigs were fueled. An off-duty member from Ladder 43 remained in quarters. Engine 53 was dispatched on the fifth alarm to the second tower. Was on the phone with my wife and was watching on TV. I knew it was going to be a really tough job, the guys were going to get their butts kicked.
I had the company check their gear and the rig for equipment. We received a run to East 41st Street and Lexington Avenue for a person with their foot stuck in a revolving door. We were assigned with Engine 26. There are normally numerous trucks closer than we are, but they were already sent to the World Trade Center. The response was over 60 blocks.
We arrived and an ambulance was already there. The guys got off the rig and said, yes, there is a person with their foot stuck. We went into the lobby, a large building with subway access. As I walked in, the first guys inside said they had him free.
After entering a 10-37 for assist civilian and 10-8 to be in service for another run on the mobile data terminal, I asked the Manhattan dispatcher, do you want me to go downtown? The dispatcher told us to remain in service. That took the heart right out of everybody on the rig. The chauffeur said, come on, let's go. I said there is nobody left on the East Side. Every other truck company in our area is already assigned to the WTC - 13, 16, 14 and 26. I instructed the chauffeur to head up town, but go slowly.
The fire that consumed the 47-story building 7 amazed many firefighters - that a fire of that size in a building so large could burn for so many hours.
At 3rd Avenue and East 50th Street we heard a firefighter screaming for help. Who is he? I told John, my chauffeur, there is something wrong. I heard the Manhattan dispatcher calling Field Communications numerous times with no answer. Then the dispatcher was trying to get any unit operating at the scene. I called the dispatcher and said that Ladder 43 would proceed south and give them a report. The dispatcher sent us.
We could see smoke from the towers. We didn't hear any report of the building coming down. I thought only pieces of the building came down. The way we were driving south you could only see one tower, we didn't know for sure. We parked as close as we could, about four blocks north near Warren and West streets.
Walking south near Barclay Street we heard a noise loud enough to make you look up. It looked like ceramic tiles popping off. We backed up and ran north. We ducked into a loading zone. The smoke and dust were coming. I told everybody to mask up. We had two search ropes with us. We now were with 10 cops. After the smoke and dust started to clear, there were cars, trucks and apparatus burning. We walked near the north pedestrian bridge and checked in, around and under rigs for trapped firefighters. Engines were started and the 500 gallons of water in the booster tanks were used to extinguish some of the fires in the rigs.
While we were searching for civilians, we ran into Chief Mark Ferran, Battalion 12. He told me he had a report that Chief Rich Picciato, Battalion 11, was trapped in one of the towers. He said the chief reported he was with a number of firefighters in Tower 1 in a stairway and he can't tell where they are. We started asking everybody and anybody did they know where Tower 1 was? One firefighter said if you go through building 6, up a ladder to the veranda, but it was all collapsed inside.
We went out and around building 6, down to the parking garage and to Vesey Street. We walked east. There was a 40-foot-high pile of steel in the street after Tower 1 collapsed. The fire had entered building 7. Fire was visible in 30 windows spread across four of the lower floors. We found off-duty members from Engine 53/Ladder 43 operating an engine and aerial ladder at a building where people were trapped on the upper floors.