WTC: This Is Their Story Part - IV

Numerous FDNY members volunteered for a month at a time to assist in the recovery efforts. Here is their story: Firefighter Mike Fenick Ladder 48 15 years Firehouse: I think somebody said that there were 14 teams of six guys each. Is...


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Numerous FDNY members volunteered for a month at a time to assist in the recovery efforts. Here is their story:

Firefighter Mike Fenick Ladder 48
15 years

Firehouse: I think somebody said that there were 14 teams of six guys each. Is that what they had?

Fenick: Yes.

Firehouse: Was that each tour?

Fenick: Each tour.

Firehouse: You worked with different guys from all over the city?

Fenick: Yeah, there were Bronx guys, Brooklyn guys, Harlem guys.

Firehouse: Did you work with the same guys every night?

Fenick: We worked with our same team every night.

Firehouse: What would your basic day consist of?

Fenick: You would get either the transfer station where the excavator would shake out debris in front of you and then you would go through it with the rake.

Firehouse: In the pit?

Fenick: They had one up high in front of 10 and 10 and they also had two or three of those down in the pit.

Firehouse: They told you what to look for and that if you found anything, you were supposed to stop?

Fenick: Yes, any kind of clothing, body parts, of course, and it's common sense, purses and anything that could be related to a human being.

Firehouse: So what were the kind of things that you'd see when you were there, let's say down at one of the transfer points?

Fenick: At the transfer stations, not much. Bags, handbags, really not like a woman's handbag. Attache cases. Small bones. Sport bags, some clothing, some shoes and sneakers.

Firehouse: Did you find any fire tools?

Fenick: No fire tools. A couple of radios we found smashed up.

Firehouse: Could you tell where they were from?

Fenick: Not the ones that we found, no.

Firehouse: Did you find anything that was recognizable besides rebar or steel?

Fenick: As far as debris, recognizable debris? You mean structural type?

Firehouse: Anything, like a desk or a computer or a chair?

Fenick: Most of it was pretty crushed. You would find a lot of books. One area was filled with books. It must have been in the library. You could tell some chairs.

Firehouse: Could you smell when you found a body?

Fenick: Usually you could smell it. You would also get a lot of smells and there would be nothing around. If you got by a body, you were going to smell it first.

Firehouse: Was it difficult to take a body out of the debris? Did you use other tools besides a rake?

Fenick: Rakes and rebar cutters. It could be difficult. Some of them took quite a while. We had a sifter. They were pouring buckets of dirt into that sifter, sifting it out, finding a lot of bone fragments in there. I did some torch work. That's about it as far as tools.

Firehouse: Did you ever have to go over to the SOC truck? They had the SOC truck over there with extra tools and supplies.

Fenick: No, they had a tool shack at 10 and 10 and you would just say send me this or that and the guy would come zipping down.

Firehouse: What would you ask for?

Fenick: Basically, rebar cutters or that's where they would bring the body bags from, buckets, the sifter.

Firehouse: When you did find a firefighter, was the company called after the extrication was completed, if you knew where he was from? For most of the remains, did you know where they were from?

Fenick: Somebody said there was like 80 in March. I don't know if that's true or not, 80 bodies they found. I would say close to it. I thought it was more like 50 firemen. Well, it could have been other people, too. There were civilians.

Firehouse: Out of the 50, many of them could not be identified?

Fenick: Some of them they couldn't identify.

Firehouse: So now would you put them in the body bag in the Stokes and then carry them up or would somebody else carry them up?

Fenick: That depends. If you were right there when it was going into the bag, you helped put it in the bag.

Firehouse: They called them down there if they weren't there?

Fenick: Yes.

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