FDNY Chief Takes Heat Over Tale

A Fire Department battalion chief who was trapped for hours inside the rubble of World Trade Center's north tower is defending himself against colleagues who say he exaggerated his role in a 9/11 rescue. "I know they're upset, and I'm unhappy that...


A Fire Department battalion chief who was trapped for hours inside the rubble of World Trade Center's north tower is defending himself against colleagues who say he exaggerated his role in a 9/11 rescue. "I know they're upset, and I'm unhappy that they're upset," said Richard Picciotto, author of "Last Man Down," a new book about his harrowing experience in the tower and its ruins.

In published reports, some of Picciotto's colleagues said he had no role in rescuing 59-year- old Josephine Harris, a Port Authority bookkeeper.

Harris reportedly also does not recall Picciotto.

But Picciotto says she was among a number of people whom he directed to rescuers from Ladder Co. 6 in Chinatown.

Ladder 6 firefighters are quoted as saying they found Harris around the 19th floor. But other accounts of the catastrophe say she was around the 12th floor, where Picciotto says she was with a large group of people.

"I was getting them all out as fast as I could," he said. "We were in a nerve-wracking situation."

After the building collapsed, Harris, Picciotto and members of Ladder 6 were trapped several hours in the rubble.

"When I wrote this book, I tried to be as accurate as I possibly could," Picciotto said. "I didn't exaggerate. I just tried to tell the story form my perspective."