WTC: This Is Their Story

Firehouse® presents the extraordinary stories of FDNY firefighters who were on the scene and operating in different areas following the 9/11 terrorist attack.


We continue to present the extraordinary stories of those FDNY firefighters who were on the scene and operating in different areas before, during and after the collapse of the World Trade Center's 110-story twin towers following the terrorist attack on 9/11. The interviews were conducted by Harvey...


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We continue to present the extraordinary stories of those FDNY firefighters who were on the scene and operating in different areas before, during and after the collapse of the World Trade Center's 110-story twin towers following the terrorist attack on 9/11. The interviews were conducted by Harvey Eisner.

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Tim Brown was in the lobby of the South Tower (top of picture) and went for EMS for the numerous injured people entering the lobby from the upper floors. Brown traveled across West Street (in middle of photo), returned with EMS personnel and made it into the lobby of the Marriott Hotel when the South Tower collapsed and survived. The photo depicts only three floors in the hotel after the second collapse.

Firefighter Tim Brown, FDNY Detailed as supervisor in operations at the New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM)
18 years of service

When the first plane hit, I was in 7 World Trade Center, on the third floor. I didn't hear it. The only reason I knew something was wrong was because the power went out for about three to five seconds. I knew that there was a major interruption of power, and the power came back up because it was rerouted automatically by computers.

People who were sitting next to the windows facing Tower 1 all stood up and starting running away from the windows. I yelled, what's wrong, and they said a plane just crashed into the tower.

Some sort of minor panic evacuation occurred in the cafeteria. The one escalator down was loaded up. I pushed my way through the crowd down to the lobby level where I saw my boss, Calvin Drayton. He told me to go up to our office on the 23rd floor and make sure that we had everything put in place properly, that the proper notifications were being made. We have a responsibility to notify a lot of agencies in a situation like this. That is done by our watch command.

When I got up to the 23rd floor, I went to my desk and grabbed my three portable radios, my police radio, fire radio and OEM radio, stuffed the police and fire radios in my back pockets, and carried the OEM radio in my hand. I went into our watch command, which is our communications center, to make sure they were prepared for the onslaught of calls we would be getting. I saw that the supervisor, Mike Lee, was there and that he had things under control. I went into our emergency operations center to make sure that was being powered up. I ran into Mike Berkowitz, who is the supervisor in charge of that part of our operation. He had everything under control. He said he had the manpower he needed to get it up and running. He was good, so I was very comfortable that OEM was beginning to do what we do in a major emergency.

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I took the elevator back down to the lobby and proceeded to Vesey Street. There was a lot of debris and stuff burning in the street. I went to my car. I opened my trunk and took off my jacket and threw on a Mayor's Office jacket and a helmet and boots, and went back to the corner of Vesey and West Broadway, where I saw our Car 2 there, an inspector from the police department and (OEM Commissioner) John T. Odermatt. He was going to stay there at the exterior command post, which was the police command post. I told him I was going to meet Car 3, Calvin, at the fire command station in the lobby of 1 World Trade Center. I wanted to get a three-sided view of Tower 1 before I went up, so I ran into the plaza level and saw tremendous destruction. In that plaza area, I saw a lot of stuff on fire. I saw plane parts, building parts, bodies - a very war-like scene. I interacted with a Port Authority cop there and then I left and went into 1 World Trade Center.

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