Transcripts 1-20




From an operational point of view, even though I'm not a Chief in operation, a fire Chief, I was a fire-fighter at Rescue 1, I was a lieutenant in the South Bronx fighting fires, and I had never seen so much fire in a high-rise building. Never. Even when I was in Rescue 1 as a fireman in rescue in Manhattan. I have never seen more than one floor going and an entire floor. You're talking about multiple floors and the entire floor from west to east, north to south, an entire floor burning. That's a lot of fire. I don't think we were capable of putting out that much fire in a building. My other observation is that the airliners crashing into the building may have weakened the building, but that is not what caused the collapse. What caused the collapse was the intense fire from the jet fuel that continued burning along with combustible materials on multiple floors and the fact that the building was built with a core construction. The floors were supported by the core and also by the skin of the building, the steel outer skin of the building. That's how those floors were supported. So here you have an airliner coming in, one airliner came in straight and hit on an upper floor, that was in the north tower, and it hit probably in the 90s, the floors it hit. The upper 90s it hit. The second plane, which caused the first collapse, as it came into building banked, it banked, so the wings, if you saw the film, the wings hit multiple floors now. Now the amount of floors that were hit were greater because the wings had banked. So then you have the wings going into floors above and below the main fuselage of the plane, and it also hit near the corner and it hit on a lower floor, probably 20 floors below, somewhere in the 80s, in the low 80s, 83rd floor, somewhere along there, 83rd floor, 81st floor. That's where the second plane hit. Now, that's in the south tower and that's the first tower that collapsed. So you have that plane hitting. Now you have all this intense heat, you have heat probably up even close to 2,000 degrees burning here. Steel joists and steel I-beams, at 1,200 degrees of heat they'll expand nine inches per hundred foot of steel. So per hundred foot of steel, steel will expand nine inches. So you have this expansion going on because they've been subjected between 45 minutes to an hour and a half to heat now. The second tower to collapse was the first one hit. That was an hour and a half after it was hit.
Q. What do you estimate the temperature was at that time?
A. Reaching 2,000 degrees in those towers. So now we're going to have these this steel expanding and also it starts warping and twisting. So once it was weakened to that point, the steel, besides the crash, it was weakened by the fire, which really caused it to collapse, one floor started collapsing into another floor, and that's what caused the collapse. So it was really the fire more than the plane crashing into the building that caused the collapse.How do we operationally treat that in the future? I don't think we can. I think we restrict our efforts to try to get people out of the building, but we don't have enough water or enough manpower to get up in that building and put out a fire that's that extensive in one of these buildings. It will burn itself out before. Either the building is going to collapse or it's going to burn itself out. In the
Empire State Building, the Empire State Building would not have collapsed. It's different types of construction. It's not core construction. It's masonry, it's columns, it's heavier built. But then, of course, you don't have these big, open spaces. In the Empire State Building it's more compartmentalized.
Q. Right.
A. So a building like the
Empire State Building would not have collapsed. You would have had a huge fire there, you would have had a lot of floors burnt out, you would have never put out the fire, it probably would have burnt itself out also, but the building would have stood. This type of construction, I don't think we'd ever be able to put out a fire like this. We restrict our actions to evacuation rather than trying to put the fire out, and that's the only observation I could make.



Then there was another it sounded like an explosion and heavy white powder, papers, flying everywhere.
Q. So it was clear while you were going up
West Street?
A. Yes. That's when we heard this massive explosion and I saw this thing rolling towards us. It looked like a fireball and then thick, thick black smoke.
Q. Is it possible the second one occurred while you were in the battery?
A. The second one had to have occurred while we were at the battery, because that's when all this white stuff started flying around.



As soon as we arrived, 84, a massive explosion goes off, and at this point we didn't know what it was. We thought it was a secondary explosion. We didn't know that it was a second plane. In fact, I didn't know there was a second plane until much later in the evening.



There were people starting to evacuate from the area, and then we noticed the tower that was burning -- and as we were one block away from the assignment, we heard an extraordinarily loud explosion, and with that, many more people went running in the opposite direction, at which point there was, I guess, a few seconds of radio silence, and then somebody came over the air and said, "A second plane just hit the other tower." The part that was really bizarre is actually -- what seemed bizarre is there was the second explosion, you know, the second plane explosion, and then it was -- at least on the EMS radio, there was absolute silence for probably 10 or 15 seconds



When we saw her, we pulled over to help her. She was saying an explosion -- she didn't say the building went down; she said she was under the building when the plane went down. That's what I remember. We tried to calm her down, because she was upset. Then we heard this loud noise like another plane. That's what we thought it was, another plane. It was a real loud rumbling. I can hear a lot of people screaming. We didn't know what it was, and we turned around and saw people running the opposite way on Broadway, running north on Broadway. We could see this big, black cloud of smoke coming up. I said, "Oh, shit."



No. I know I was with an officer from Ladder 146, a Lieutenant Evangelista, who ultimately called me up a couple of days later just to find out how I was. We both for whatever reason -- again, I don't know how valid this is with everything that was going on at that particular point in time, but for some reason I thought that when I looked in the direction of the Trade Center before it came down, before No. 2 came down, that I saw low-level flashes. In my onversation with Lieutenant Evangelista, never mentioning this to him, he questioned me and asked me if I saw low-level flashes in front of the building, and I agreed with him because I thought -- at that time I didn't know what it was. I mean, it could have been as a result of the building collapsing, things exploding, but I saw a flash flash flash and then it looked like the building came down.
Q. Was that on the lower level of the building or up where the fire was?
A. No, the lower level of the building. You know like when they demolish a building, how when they blow up a building, when it falls down? That's what I thought I saw. And I didn't broach the topic to him, but he asked me. He said I don't know if I'm crazy, but I just wanted to ask you because you were standing right next to me. He said did you see anything by the building? And I said what do you mean by see anything? He said did you see any flashes? I said, yes, well, I thought it was just me. He said no, I saw them, too. I don't know if that means anything. I mean, I equate it to the building coming down and pushing things down, it could have been electrical explosions, it could have been whatever. But it's just strange that two people sort of say the same thing and neither one of us talked to each other about it. I mean, I don't know this guy from a hole in the wall. I was just standing next to him. I never met the man before in my life. He knew who I was I guess by my name on my coat and he called me up, you now, how are you doing? How's everything? And, oh, by the way did you ... It was just a little strange.
Q. On the television pictures it appeared as well, before the first collapse, that there was an explosion up on the upper floors.
A. I know about the explosion on the upper floors. This was like eye level. I didn't have to go like this. Because I was looking this way. I'm not going to say it was on the first floor or the second floor, but somewhere in that area I saw to me what appeared to be flashes. I don't know how far down this was already. I mean, we had heard the noise but, you know, I don't know. I never actually saw the plane, but l heard it. You could hear it coming in and then we heard the explosion and you could hear the roar of the plane coming in. At first I didn't realize it was a plane. I thought it was like the roar of fire, like something had just incinerated, like a gas tank or an oil tank. It sounded like a tremendous roar and then you heard boom and then there was a big fire, a lot of fire, a big fireball.



Literally within like maybe a minute or two of being on the scene, you could start to hear the rumble again. Everybody just said, "Get out of here!" Everybody just took off running.
Q. That was the rumble from the second tower?
A. It was, definitely, because you could start to see the dust cloud was starting to come at us and everything.

We knew something had happened. I don't think we realized like the whole thing had come down, because we didn't even know -- she had said that something had collapsed, there was some kind of explosion, I don't know.

We were standing at Bellevue. All of a sudden we hear this rumble of like a plane really low, and I started to freak out. Jimmy Murphy said, "It's okay. It's an F-15." I've never heard an F-15 before. I don't go to air shows or anything. But that plane and the rumble, especially because you hadn't heard a plane since; maybe a helicopter or two. But that sound, that was – and just to see all these fighter jets over New York City was very, very strange.



I drove right up there and then like I said, I had just opened my door and the second -- I thought it was the secondary explosion. I didn't know it was another plane in the south tower, because when I heard it, I looked up and I saw debris. It had to be debris flying over from the south tower. Not much, but there was enough coming down in the street where I took off and I ducked into a garage until it cleared up. After the secondary explosion in the north tower, I didn't know what the hell - I didn't know it was another plane that had hit until I got around to the command post.



Then all of a sudden you heard something, and it sounded like a harrier jet was landing right over top of us. Sure enough that second tower was just coming straight down. It was sick . I didn't think I was going to survive . It was really a sick sight and a really sick sound.
Q. What did you do?
A. I said, "Let's go, Joe. We're going to dive under this engine there." There was an engine, I think it was at Vesey and West, I think it was right on the corner by the median, and we ran to it and we dove underneath it. We ran to it, ran around it and dove underneath it, because we figured we were going to get covered and that's our best chance. Although debris fell around us, the main structure felt as if -- we were lucky. When it sounded like the explosion stopped, the steel hitting, when it all seemed to stop, this just like a fire storm of wind and material, a sandstorm kind of, just came and wailed by, really flew past us quick.



At the time I did not know what had transpired, whether that was a plane or some type of explosion. So now I was with Firefighter Sterling and Fire fighter Billy . A couple people, civilians, indicated to me that there was an elevator that was working at this time. But I had already gotten transmissions over the air that some elevators had already crashed down to the first floor. I told them no one is getting in an elevator. That's basically where we were. Then a large explosion took place. In my estimation that was the tower coming down, but at that time I did not know what that was. I thought some type of bomb had gone off.



So the call came in, and we got on the rig. We responded going south on Varick Street, and I said to the nozzle man when I saw the damage, "That's got to be an explosion," not realizing that it was hit by a plane.

We were going to have some guys just take cylinders and the other guys take hoses, but we felt this rumble and this noise, like a train was going through your living room. Felt like an earthquake. A few minutes later, a chief -- someone told me he believed it was 11 battalion -- said to drop everything and get out, get out. He didn't say why. He just said, "Drop everything and get out." Probably said it a couple of times.

All morning I was watching 7 World Trade burn, which we couldn't do anything about because it was so much chaos looking for missing members.



I had relieved the lieutenant from the night tour. He had left -- I was in the kitchen with the other firemen. I was standing up with a cup of coffee, and I heard a loud explosion. It sounded like it was coming from the back of the fire house. I thought it was north of the fire house. I put down my coffee, and I said to the guys, "I think we're going to work. That was an explosion." So walking out to the apparatus, we heard the voice alarm came over and said there was an explosion in the World Trade Center. So we were putting on our boots, getting ready. The engine was dispatched on the box. The time was 8:48. I knew right away. I felt right away it was -- I remembered thinking they got us this time, because I heard the explosion, so I knew it was a large explosion, and the World Trade Center, so I figured we were on route to a big disaster . There was never a doubt in my mind, as I recall, that it was anything other than a terrorist attack. After that, I think we made another push after that, but that is not as accurate in my mind, that I' d say we were in the 30th or 31st, 32nd Floor, or something like that, and a few of the guys were lying wiped out on the floor, you know, taking a break with their masks off and lying in the hallway when there was a very loud roaring sound and a very loud explosion, and the -- it felt like there was an explosion above us, and I had a momentary concern that our building was collapsing. Looking up, guys were diving into the stairway, and then it was like -- everybody was very scared by then. I' m talking the firemen, and then we were very worried about what was going on. We didn't know, but apparently that was the other building falling. We felt -- our whole building that we were in, when World Trade Center 2 collapsed, that was the first one to collapse. We were in World Trade Center 1. It was a tremendous explosion and tremendous shaking of our building. We thought it was our building maybe collapsed, there was a collapse above us occurring. It was tremendous shaking and like everybody dove into this stairwell and waited for, I guess, 20, 30 seconds until it settled, and that was our experience of the other building collapsing.



The elevators looked like they were on fire in the lobby. There wasn't smoke coming out of them, but it looked like they all bubbled up and everything and there was a fire in there.

We made it to the 5th floor and then there was a report of major gas, a gas leak on the 5th floor. So now I'm heading back up the stairs to the 20 something floor and there was some sort of gas leak on the 5th floor. I smelled it, but I couldn't tell if it was a gas leak or anything, but you definitely smelled something that wasn't there when we were doing the evacuation.

When the tower started -- there was a big explosion that I heard and someone screamed that it was coming down and I looked away and I saw all the windows domino -- you know, dominoeing up and then come down.