International Association of Fire Fighters General President Schaitberger is on his way to New York City Tuesday, where he says the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, "very clearly will exceed by scores and scores," the most devastating deadly event in the history of the country."
In contact with Local 94, UFA and Local 854, UFOA, reps in the city, Schaitberger said he is hearing all the words you would imagine, horrible and catastrophic. "Scores of our people were in those buildings when they came down," he said
It was the normal response of the firefighters to be in those buildings, doing search and rescue and fire attack, Schaitberger said. "There is only one way you can do that, you have to go in."
Schaitberger said it will be hard to determine quickly how many first responders were injured and lost because many who were on the scene responded on their own apart from those on duty. "As it relates to our profession, it is devastating."
Schaitberger said he and a team from his office were going to assist the two locals over the next critical days dealing with the killed and injured firefighters with the resources from the national level. "We will do what we can to take care of our members."
The team was hoping to go in with one of the Urban Search and Rescue teams responding from across the country. The flag at IAFF national headquarters in Washington, D.C. has been lowered to half-staff.