The firehouse pride of midtown; no survivors.
Michael Meyers sits down with Aaron Stipkovich to discuss the story of Battalion 9, the firehouse in midtown Manhattan that lost every one of it's firefighters on September 11, 2001.
The New York City Fire Department, formally the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) has the responsibility of protecting the citizens and property of New York City's five boroughs from fires and fire hazards, providing emergency medical services, technical rescue as well as providing first response to biological, chemical and radioactive hazards. The department has its headquarters in 9 MetroTech Center, Downtown Brooklyn, and its training academy (The FDNY Fire Academy) on Randall's Island.
The FDNY, the largest municipal fire department in the United States, and the second largest in the world after the Tokyo Fire Department, has approximately 11,080 uniformed officers and firefighters and over 3,300 uniformed EMTs and paramedics. It faces an extraordinarily varied challenge. In addition to responding to building types that range from wood-frame single family homes to high-rise structures, there are the many bridges and tunnels, large parks and wooded areas that can give rise to major brush fires, and one of the largest subway systems in the world. These challenges add yet another level of firefighting complexity and have led to the creation of the motto for FDNY firefighters of New York's Bravest.
September 11, 2001
On September 11, 2001 19 terrorists associated with al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial passenger aircraft to be used to attack targets in New York and Washington, DC, in what came to be known as the September 11, 2001 attacks or 9/11. Two aircraft hijacked out of Logan International Airport in Boston, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, were flown by terrorists into the North and South twin towers respectively of the World Trade Center, causing massive damage to both towers during impact, and starting fires that eventually caused the weakened 110-story skyscrapers to collapse.
New York City fire companies and EMS crews were deployed to the World Trade Center minutes after the first aircraft struck the north tower. Chief officers set up a command center in the lobby as first arriving units entered the building and firefighters began climbing the stairs. A mobile command center was also set up outside on Vesey Street, but was destroyed when the buildings collapsed. A command post was then set up at a firehouse in Greenwich Village. The FDNY deployed 200 units to the site, with more than 400 firefighters, EMTs and paramedics on the scene when the buildings collapsed.
Many firefighters arrived at the World Trade Center without meeting at the command centers. Problems with radio communication caused commanders to lose contact with many of the firefighters who went into the buildings; those firefighters were unable to hear evacuation orders. There was practically no communication with the New York City Police Department, which had helicopters at the scene. When the towers collapsed, hundreds were killed or trapped within. 343 FDNY firefighters, EMTs and paramedics who responded to the attacks lost their lives. The casualties included First Deputy Commissioner William M. Feehan, Chief of Department Peter Ganci Department Chaplain Mychal Judge, and Battalion Chief Orio Palmer.
Meanwhile, average response times to fires elsewhere in the city that day only rose by one minute, to 5.5 minutes. Many of the surviving firefighters continued to work alternating 24-hour shifts as part of the rescue and recovery effort. Firefighters and EMS personnel came from hundreds of miles around New York City, including numerous career and volunteer units in Upstate New York, Long Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida and even Michigan.