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Thread: Firefighters Remember Sept. 11

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    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Firefighters Remember Sept. 11

    Firefighters Remember Sept. 11
    FDNY holds court at confab

    By William Murphy
    STAFF CORRESPONDENT

    April 11, 2002


    Indianapolis - Two veteran New York City fire commanders held the full attention of about 5,000 firefighters from around the world yesterday as they described the events of Sept. 11.

    Capt. Jay Jonas and Battalion Chief John Salka recounted the events of that morning after two planes took out the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

    "Someone said, 'Where is our air cover?' When was the last time you went to a fire and asked about air cover?" Salka said.

    Jonas recalled how he and his men were trapped in the fourth-floor stairwell of the north tower for more than three hours.

    He said he couldn't understand how the firefighters trying to rescue him could not locate him. "I felt like saying, 'Hey hayseed, it's the big tower on the north,'" he said.

    Jonas said he got his answer later when he and his crew worked their way back up to what had been the fifth story.

    "I said, 'Brothers, there used to be 106 stories above us. Now there is daylight.'"

    Salka sounded incredulous that each of the trade towers, whose floors were one acre in size, had only three staircases and each were wide enough to accommodate only two people.

    "And these are the mothers of all high-rise buildings," he said.

    While some of their stories provided fresh details, they were similar to what many New Yorkers already knew about Sept. 11. But the stories gripped the audience at the annual Fire Department Instructors Conference, being held this week in Indianapolis.

    Their presentation, as they took turns speaking from opposite sides of the stage, capped a three-hour opening ceremony that honored all firefighters who died in the line of duty last year. The New York City Fire Department lost 343 firefighters on Sept. 11.

    This year, there are about 25,000 firefighters and 8,000 exhibitors, a turnout that is about 25 percent higher than last year's event.

    The morning audience also sat in silence as the names, hometowns and date of death of each firefighter who died last year rolled by on four wide screens.

    At a later session, Salka said that four senior officials of the department - who unlike him were among the first to arrive on the scene - were unable to attend the conference, and he was filling in for them.

    Salka noted that the two towers had a total of 43,600 windows. "I did not see a single piece of glass," he said in pointing out the devastation.

    He also displayed a map on a large screen showing how the hijacked planes had quickly veered off course. "I don't know who's watching the TV screens. Are there any air traffic controllers here? Are we ready for the next time this happens?"

    Several trade center-related topics were discussed at workshops in the afternoon. The conventioneers also saw a separate photo montage of family and personal pictures of 10 city firefighters who served as instructors at the annual conference who had died at the World Trade Center.


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    Administrator Neil's Avatar
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    September 11th Heroes Honored in Indianapolis, Indiana

    September 11th Heroes Honored in Indianapolis, Indiana

    CHRIS SUNDHEIM
    Associated Press Writer

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Like the closing credits to a grief-filled movie, the names of New York City firefighters who died Sept. 11 scrolled slowly down a video screen in a candlelit ballroom.

    More than 8,000 firefighters stared silently at the list Wednesday as they began a week of training with a solemn tribute to 343 colleagues who died in the terrorist attacks.

    The two-hour ceremony to mark the start of the Fire Department Instructors Conference was part remembrance and part a celebration of firefighting. Speakers eulogized their fallen friends, shared firehouse memories and sang tribute songs.

    Many firefighters urged their colleagues to find meaning in the loss by stepping up efforts to learn new rescue techniques.

    ``It's a tragic way to change,'' said Al Brunacini of the Phoenix Fire Department. ``But if we miss those lessons ... we are being disrespectful to those persons that were lost.''

    Others lashed out in anger against terrorists.

    Billy Goldfeder, an honorary member of the New York City Fire Department who now works for the fire department in Loveland, Ohio, called the hijackers ``horrendous and poor excuses for people.''

    Organizers say the conference is the largest gathering of firefighters since Sept. 11. More than 25,000 firefighters from across the nation are expected to attend.

    The participants will take part in workshops designed to help improve rescue efforts and train for catastrophic events.

    Firefighters from New York are scheduled to share their experiences. And other seminars discuss how fire crews can safeguard their communities against terrorism and prepare for aircraft accidents.


    http://www.firehouse.com/news/2002/4/11_APindy.html

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