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Thread: Its Ranks Depleted, a Weary Fire Dept. Is Trying to Regroup

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    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Its Ranks Depleted, a Weary Fire Dept. Is Trying to Regroup

    Its Ranks Depleted, a Weary Fire Dept. Is Trying to Regroup
    By ALAN FEUER and MICHAEL WILSON


    There are several ways to describe how the past 12 months have gone for the New York City Fire Department, and none of them are good.

    The numbers speak for themselves

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    The impulse was admirable: it was a selfless struggle to save the endangered. The benefit of hindsight shows it was also fatally reckless.

    Lt. Peter Sapienza was in Italy when the towers fell and said, had he been in New York, his instincts would have probably gotten him killed.

    "If I wasn't in Italy, I would have run down there at 9 in the morning and run up in the building with no equipment and no radio," he said. "And I'd be dead."

    The department has started to rethink how it plans to deal with terrorist attacks. Instead of sending three of its five rescue units, for example, it may send only two. It will also keep its sole hazardous material unit far from the scene, to protect it in case its expertise is needed later. Most important, it will not send so many chiefs and firefighters to the scene.

    "You don't fight a war by having every four-star general go to the front lines," Mr. Scoppetta said.

    Hardest Step: Seeking Help

    The country seems to be on a war footing now, and in wartime there are casualties. There are mental strains and breakdowns. There are heroes, too.

    The department has identified the remains of 204 of the 343 dead men, and the ghosts of the missing hover in firehouses like an old, familiar song playing in the other room. The ghosts are present every time a new guy sits in a dead man's favorite chair. They are present in the riding boards

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