CHIEF STEVE GRABHER
He said, Firefighter so and so, I have fallen two or three stories. I'm trapped, come get me, help me, come get me. I heard someone give a reply, okay brother, we are coming to get you. Just give us your location. He was saying I don't know where I am. I have fallen 2 or 3 stories. This was all happening very quickly. I heard a Battalion Chief, it might have been the 8th Battalion, but I'm not positive. I'm really not positive on that, say something about -- I heard him say something. I heard either the squad or the Rescue -- somebody said we are coming to get you brother, just give us your location, hold on. He gave a couple more Maydays. And then he said I'm losing consciousness, hurry up, come get me. This whole thing probably took about 15 seconds, if that. With that, I heard someone say collapse. This wasn't the building collapsing yet. I heard someone say there has been a collapse. I heard a Battalion Chief -- might have been a Battalion Chief -- say everybody out, everybody out, back out. I don't know if it was back it out of the floor. I took it as everybody out of the building. I took it as this guy falling two or three stories, that there had been some type of internal collapse on the floors. This was in the south tower.
Just as I go out of the building, one of my guys says hey Captain, the building is coming down. I looked over my shoulder and you could see the whole top of the south tower leaning towards us. It looked like it was coming over. You could see the windows pop out just like in the picture, looked like a movie. I saw one floor of windows pop out, like poof, poof. I saw one and a half floors pop out. It looked almost like an explosion. The whole top was teetering, and I really thought just the top of the building was falling off. I didn't think there was any way we were going to make it out because just being this close, it looked like it's leaning right on top of us. So we ran. It wasn't that far. I guess it was right to here and just as we turned down
FIREFIGHTER MIKE ZECHEWYTZ
So then we ran back in the kitchen, and then maybe 30 seconds later the news said that a bomb went off in the second building. But then they saw in slow motion it was a plane. So that was the plane that we saw go into it.
At that time I just had my bunker pants on. I put my bunker coat on. Right after I put my bunker coat on, I went to grab my mask. I noticed one of the guys from the company said, "Look, they're all running." I heard rumbling. There was a window there. I looked outside. I saw a black quick shadow come to the building. I thought it was another plane hitting. I just heard rumbling, and everything just came down. I just had to turn -- they said, "Get down, get down." I heard someone say get down, and that's what I did. I dropped. My helmet was buried. I couldn't get it. I had my hand on the strap to my mask. As everything was coming down, I was getting blasted by the dust, the debris. I was getting blown away, tossed around and whatnot.
FIREFIGHTER THOMAS SMITH
They backed me off the rig because seven was in dead jeopardy, so they backed everybody off and moved us to the rear end of
FIREFIGHTER RICHARD SAULLE
There was a car that we drove by that the driver's door and the passenger door were open, and there was a plane motor on the back half of the car. Two inches more, and both these guys would have been dead too. That was their ticket. It was amazing. The car was actually cut right in half with this motor, right there back of the front seat. I sat there in amazement.
As I did that, that's when the first tower fell. As soon as I finished, got up, the tower came down. We heard somebody saying, "Sh." That's how the tower sounded coming down, "Shhhhhh." That's all you heard it, a big shush. The tower came down.
FIREFIGHTER STUART BAILEY
I would say about a half a block away from there, I came back with my company again, not even knowing what happened to them because they weren't even near me, the second one came down. I ran again. It might have even been another block I ran. At that time jets were coming over your head and you didn't know what was happening. Is that our guys? It didn't even dawn on me that it was our guys. It was just this happened here, big buildings are all around, they're still hitting us.
FIREFIGHTER DOMINICK MUSCHELLO
All of a sudden it felt like a train was pulling in, and the second tower came down. I only looked at that tower for a split second or two and knew it was time to run. Everybody ran into the garage. Upon running into the garage, there were people in front of me and there were people in back of me. You couldn't see anywhere. It was running into darkness.
Then we were in the back, and I just remember saying, "Captain, I saw three guys that were hurt over there. Let's go back and help them. There's definitely people that we can help over there." He said that the first tower is going to come down too and we're not going over there right now. We'll all group together, look for some kind of command. Then we'll plan from there, instead of just running aimlessly back in and becoming more victims.
CAPTAIN CHARLES CLARKE
So we were talking back and forth, whether or not you should wear your bunker gear, maybe you should carry it, carry your boots up with you. Literally, there was a lot of discussion about that. Definitely bring the second bottle because we saw smoke starting to issue from lower floors, you know, that lighter smoke. So we were wondering where that was coming from and I even heard some radio transmissions about fire in the elevator shafts from the jet fuel. So we said okay. I started talking to a member of 219, who I had probably worked with for 20 years, and he was facing the tower and I was facing away from it. He stopped the conversation, his eyes lit up, and he said, "Charlie, run." He saw it before you could even hear it. We started running. I can't tell you how far I was away from that parking garage. I really don't remember. I just remember thinking let's just get in there. I got into the parking garage and I hid behind a pole. A few other guys did. A lot of other guys ran deeper in. I lost track of my guys at that moment. Everybody was kind of running. I was kind of in disbelief that the building was actually collapsing. I kind of stopped to say, well, maybe that was a piece of the facade. I couldn't believe that the entire building was going to collapse in one heap. Once I started hearing it hitting into the street, I said, that's a lot of stuff. I've got to move deeper into the building.
So we gathered up and made our way around, let's see, I guess that would be
At that point the cops came up, came running past us and told us that there was gas on West Street, and I said to them, "Well, what kind of gas? Is it natural? Is it this Saran gas they talk about?" I said, "What do you know about it?" He goes, "I have no idea. I know there's gas." So I said to the guys, "We're going to go back up
FIREFIGHTER EDWARD CACHIA
As my officer and I were looking at the south tower, it just gave. It actually gave at a lower floor, not the floor where the plane hit, because we originally had thought there was like an internal detonation explosives because it went in succession, boom, boom, boom, boom, and then the tower came down. With that everybody was just stunned for a second or two, looking at the tower coming down. Then everybody started to turn towards the garage. That was it. We were just kind of blown into the garage with all the dust and the debris and material from the building. It came up rapidly right up the street.
At that point in time, we're looking up at the north tower. I remember my officer saying, "I have a feeling this one is going to come down too." Just as he said that, that tower came down it looked like at the point of impact. We actually witnessed both towers coming down visually. We happened to be looking at that particular time. With that, the tower came down. We ran towards the marina to seek shelter, and all the debris came over the building we were behind. We were kind of buried a second time with light debris, my officer being ahead of me by the boats, and I just didn't quite make it that far. I just hit the ground and hoped for the best. You could hear the steel beams coming down. They flew everywhere. That was it.
FIREFIGHTER RICHARD BANACISKI
We were there I don't know, maybe 10, 15 minutes and then I just remember there was just an explosion. It seemed like on television they blow up these buildings. It seemed like it was going all the way around like a belt, all these explosions. Everybody just said run and we all turned around and we ran into the parking garage because that's basically where we were. Running forward would be running towards it. Not thinking that this building is coming down. We just thought there was going to be a big explosion, stuff was going to come down.
So I was kind of looking around over there, up and down West Street and looking on Vesey and I just remember there was a police officer standing there and he just started saying, it's starting to lean, it's starting to lean. I remember looking up, looking at the second building and just seeing it starting to move. I just started running back down Vesey towards the water again to where I had come from. That's -- the second building came down there.
They told us to get out of there because they were worried about 7 World Trade Center, which is right behind it, coming down. We were up on the upper floors of the Verizon building looking at it. You could just see the whole bottom corner of the building was gone. We could look right out over to where the Trade Centers were because we were that high up. Looking over the smaller buildings. I just remember it was tremendous, tremendous fires going on. Finally they pulled us out. They said all right, get out of that building because that 7, they were really worried about. They pulled us out of there and then they regrouped everybody on Vesey Street, between the water and West Street. They put everybody back in there. Finally it did come down. From there – this is much later on in the day, because every day we were so worried about that building we didn't really want to get people close. They were trying to limit the amount of people that were in there. Finally it did come down.
FIREFIGHTER TODD HEANEY
That chief told our officer to stand fast right here, and the building came down. Tower 2 came down.
I mean, it happened very quickly. You heard the sound, like a crack, like a giant tree branch breaking, and I was frozen. I couldn’t even run. People were just running past me, and I watched the building, and the top half cracked and started to fall towards Liberty, started to fall towards Liberty Street, towards where 10 and 10 is, and then it just started coming down, and the pounding got louder, and louder, and then we just started running.
I remember getting a drink of water out of their cooler there, and then we just started to put out the car fires, and the rigs were going, ambulances. I mean, there must have been 50 of these things burning heavily. The Scott cylinders and the oxygen cylinders were all letting go. They were blowing up left and right.
FIREFIGHTER BRIAN FITZPATRICK
So we were grabbing our gear and we were walking out to meet him and we were in front of the parking garage in front of 2 World Financial Center, the Merrill Lynch building, which is basically on the southwest corner of the north tower and right across the street from the Vista International Hotel, and that's when we heard a tremendous noise and it was coming from the south tower, and we looked up and it was coming down.
FIREFIGHTER LOUIS GIACONELLI
I remember passing underneath that north pedestrian bridge, and I was just about to get back to the entrance to the driveway to the staging area and I heard this sound, and it was like a train, like a huge train rumbling, and I knew that something was coming off the building, but I didn't know what it was.
So I just dove underneath the High-Rise 2 Unit. I dove underneath there, and just as I got underneath there, the first building had collapsed. I didn't realize the whole building had collapsed. I knew something significant had come down, but I didn't realize at the time that it was the whole building. So I dove under the rig and there was another guy underneath there with me. It turned out he was a fire patrolman. He wasn't a firefighter. But we were under the rig and the next thing I knew, I heard the crash, I felt the impact, and it went from day to night.
So I took a few steps outside the entrance of the building onto the stairway there, and the High-Rise 2 Unit that I had been under when the first building came down was parked right there on the right-hand side on the grass. I took a few steps and I was looking around, and the next thing I knew, I heard the same sound that I'd heard when the first building had come down. So I didn't have to look up. I knew what the sound was. I didn't have to look up. It was the same sound I had heard when the first building came down.
So all of us took a walk over on Vesey Street and, sure enough, there was the rig. It was hooked up to one of the marine units. It was already hooked up and pumping water. It was relaying water to another engine and they were supplying a tower ladder with water. I guess they were pouring water I think on the Customs Building. We also noticed that 7 World Financial Center was fully involved there, too.
LIEUTENANT SEAN O'MALLEY
As I was saying, I collected up my team of probies and was heading out the front door of the fire house with them, when all of a sudden, civilians -- some of the civilians that were in the street came running into the fire house. One man was yelling it's coming down. I could hear behind him a roar like a jet engine, so I turned around, started running towards the back of the fire house. I grabbed one of the patients that was lying on the floor on a backboard under one arm and just started running towards the back door. As I said, in addition to the civilians that were being treated for first aid, several more civilians came running through the fire house from Liberty Street heading out towards the back of the fire house and by the time we got to the rear of the fire house, there is a hallway that is probably like 45 inches or so and that dead ends into the kitchen. You have to take a right-hand turn to go out the back door. By the time I got to that where you make the right turn to go down the additional 10 or 15 feet to the back door, there was a complete log jam of people. All trying to get out that back door. Sometime right around then I also became aware that Captain Kelty, and his brother, supervising Fire Marshal Jim Kelty, were also in the fire house. At least one of them was by the back door and the roar that I heard was getting louder and louder. I started to feel a breeze against the back of my head. I put the civilian on the backboard. I put him down in the hallway that led out towards the back door and I was standing directly next to the stairs that led to the basement and I dove down the stairs into the basement. I hid under a doorway arch. I was thinking it didn't make any sense because the only building I ever remember falling down -- a high rise that was burning, it was the one in Philadelphia that burnt for days. I remember thinking it didn't make any sense, but I also remember thinking there was no way that big building was going to come down in that little fire house. Just before the dust cloud hit, I remember seeing the door to the high pressure steam room directly to my left and I had seconds to ponder if that was a place to hide, but we really had no place else to go.
While we were doing that we heard small explosions, rumblings, which sounded like additional collapses. When one of those would happen some of the people that were helping us, would run for positions of cover, but I was holding traction so I had to stay with the patient and the probationary Firefighter Dino, whatever his name was. Maintaining traction on the Lieutenant's head and supplying with the oxygen. He stayed his ground as well. That happened 3 or 4 times during the course of our trying to get them out of there. Then we heard jets overhead and we were concerned that there was another plane coming in to attack us. We just about finished packaging him when we heard that same roaring rumble that preceded the first collapse and the probationary Firefighter at the Lieutenant's head leaned down over him and covered him with his body over the Lieutenant's head and chest and I leaned down from the other end and covered the remainder of him as best as I could with my body and we just crossed our fingers and waited for the other collapse.
FIREFIGHTER DANIEL STERLING
A battalion chief – the battalion chief from Battalion 11, came from a higher floor. He came down and saw us on the 37th floor and told us that he thought there was a partial collapse of the 65th floor of our building, and that we should drop everything and leave the building.
We took our refuge in building 5. we made it into a window into the lobby of that building when everything was still pitch black, before the smoke had completely risen. We went in the building, and you could notice, like, big chunks sticking through the ceiling of the building.