The year 2001 had been a challenging one for many manufacturers and service providers in the fire and EMS industry. A softening economy, lagging stock market and an overall uncertain financial future forced many vendors to work especially hard to maintain the bottom line.
Then the world changed on Sept. 11. Business forecasts and economic concerns took a backseat. Across the board, vendors put their businesses on standby and rushed equipment, supplies, apparatus, ambulances and people to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In unprecedented fashion, manufacturers and service providers came together to give all they could. Their donations likely totaled more than $100 million in cash and supplies.
It’s impossible to tell all their stories, but we gathered reports from many of them to share herein. We also want to recognize the efforts of vendors whose stories aren’t mentioned in this report.
Apparatus & Ambulances
Pierce Manufacturing is donating a replacement air-and-lighting-support rescue vehicle to FDNY. Built on a Kenworth chassis to FDNY specifications, the truck bears a special 9-11-01 vehicle identification number. Pierce also loaned a fire truck to a group of Salt Lake City firefighters who toured 16 states to raise money for families of the fallen. The group drove the vehicle from coast to coast in October and November, raising $130,000 for The Fallen Fund.
The employees of Spartan Motors gave blood and wrote personal checks totaling $12,000, which the company matched. Still not satisfied they’d done enough, Spartan employees proposed something more: They would donate their time on nights and weekends to build a replacement fire engine to FDNY specs. Spartan CEO George Sztykiel called subsidiary Luverne Fire Apparatus President Jeff Lautt, who’d been thinking along the same lines. The manufacturers teamed up with several suppliers, who donated warning lights, sirens, pumps, tanks and other components. Spartan and Luverne covered the rest. Their collective efforts resulted in a pumper to be delivered in March. It replaces one of the almost 100 vehicles FDNY lost on Sept. 11.
Seats for both the Pierce and Spartan/Luverne rigs were donated by 911 Seats. W.S. Darley donated an EM 1,500 gpm two-stage midship pump for placement on the Spartan/Luverne apparatus and contributed $7,500 to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
Among the many units destroyed in the Trade Center collapses were two of the four FDNY Mask Service Units (MSUs). Early Wednesday morning, Sept. 12, Tom McDonald, FDNY deputy commissioner, called Eddie Smith, director of sales and marketing of Hackney Emergency Vehicles. His plea: Provide at least one new MSU as soon as possible. The units can store 286 SCBA bottles, which were critically needed for the rescue-and-recovery efforts at Ground Zero. Hackney responded with an unprecedented plan to compress its normal production schedule of six to eight months to 30 days. Amazingly, the company produced the unit in just two weeks; FDNY took delivery on Oct. 1.
Minutes after the Trade Center disaster, Seagrave Fire Apparatus rallied to complete a previously ordered 75' FDNY tower ladder for immediate delivery the evening of Sept. 11. Seagrave also sent staff to New York. They spent seven days working side by side with FDNY mechanics to help repair damaged apparatus. In just eight days, Seagrave personnel delivered seven previously ordered rigs, including rearmounts and pumpers. Normally, it would have taken two to four weeks to finish the units. Seagrave announced on Jan. 14 that it will donate a complete custom pumper to FDNY to replace one of the destroyed units. The company also organized several fund-raisers, held a blood drive and created a special Sept. 11 memorial mural for one of the rigs delivered to FDNY (see p. 92).
Marion Body Works donated a Long Four Door 20" raised roof, severe-duty cab. The cab shipped from Marion for final assembly in October, and the completed apparatus was delivered to FDNY in January. Marion employees donated their time to complete the project.
R-O-M Robinson Shutters spearheaded a number of fund-raisers to replace a battalion chief’s response vehicle. In addition, R-O-M hopes to raise more than $100,000 in donations.
Marque Ambulances worked with a group of South Bend, Ind., fund-raisers to donate an ambulance to Cabrini Medical Center, which lost two ambulances in the Trade Center collapses. The fund-raisers purchased the ambulance below cost from Marque, which displayed the ambulance at fund-raising events.
In Wappingers Falls, N.Y., Laerdal Medical Corp. immediately did what seemed natural: It organized a blood drive. More than 150 Laerdal staff and local residents donated blood during a 12-hour period. In addition, Laerdal donated 19 skids of emergency equipment—airway management, spinal immobilization, monitoring and more—to the World Trade Center site. With the help of UPS and a New York State Trooper escort, the supplies arrived in New York City within hours of the tragedy.
Ferno donated its Millennia backboards to assist in the rescue-and-recovery efforts at Ground Zero. After working with customers to delay and reschedule orders and with employees working nonstop to meet demand, Ferno donated additional equipment to the disaster sites in New York and Virginia. Ferno employees even drove the supplies to the World Trade Center site from Wilmington, Ohio. Supplies from Ferno’s mortuary product line were also donated and used in the efforts to respectfully search for, handle and identify the remains of many Trade Center victims.
Medtronic Physio-Control’s relief efforts totaled $1.2 million: $200,000 for the American Red Cross, $500,000 to the Twin Towers Fund and the $500,000 balance in equipment donated to the Washington, D.C., Fire Department and FDNY. Medtronic also provided loaner ambulance equipment and sent five service technicians to New York. They spent seven straight days repairing equipment.
Cardiac Science worked with the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in King’s Point, N.Y., to gather Survivalink AEDs for delivery to Ground Zero. Cardiac Science also rushed in spare electrodes to help with any cardiac emergencies.
Aether Systems Inc., in conjunction with Cingular Wireless, donated 500 RIM devices (handheld communications devices) that were used by the New York Public Safety Department, including police and fire personnel, at Ground Zero.
MidAtlantic Medical Legal Consultants assisted at the Pentagon in several ways. First, the company assembled and distributed commemorative lapel pins for the MD TF-1 USAR team and family members.
MidAtlantic also designed and distributed T-shirts honoring the Pentagon emergency responders with the motto, “We are proud; we are brave; we are one.” The company made identical T-shirts for the providers’ children.
Alliance Medical donated respirators and other protective equipment to rescuers. It also donated funds to the Firefighter’s Association of Missouri to replace its Fallen Firefighter Memorial statue, which was given to New York City.
Fire & Rescue Equipment
Along with an initial company-sponsored donation of $100,000 to the IAFF fund, MSA matched its associates’ and retirees’ donations to the fund. It reprioritized a number of existing orders and shipped more than $3 million (three truckloads) of product to New York City, Washington, D.C., and Somerset, Pa., within 48 hours of the attacks. The company sent SCBAs, thermal-imaging cameras, respirators, protective eyewear, gas detection instruments, hard hats and more.
Globe Firefighters Suits donated $5,000 cash to the American Red Cross, 300 pairs of leather firefighter gloves to FDNY and 100 suits of special emergency response gear for the rescue teams. The company also shipped 300 EMS suits and 400 turnout suits to the Pentagon rescue efforts and rushed numerous other orders to other departments assisting in the clean-up efforts.
Lion Apparel made a monetary contribution to the IAFF 9-11 fund.
Waterous Company made a significant contribution to the 9-11 Firemen’s Relief Fund and the United Way and matched employee contributions dollar for dollar.
Wehr Engineering/Glas-Master made monetary contributions to the 9-11 Fund and will continue to donate a dollar for each rescue knife sold until Sept. 11, 2002.
Smeal Fire Apparatus Co. sent a cash donation to FDNY.
Fire Facilities made contributions to the American Red Cross and the 9-11 Disaster Relief Fund.
Kussmaul donated equipment for apparatus donated to FDNY.
Duo-Safety Ladder Corp. donated a 24' 900A two-section aluminum exterior ladder with safety shoes for mounting on a Ferrara fire truck built, donated and delivered to FDNY in December.
Fire-Dex donated $3,100 to the IAFF fund, delivered in person to the IAFF’s Richard Duffey. Fire-Dex also delivered several hundred pairs of firefighter gloves to FDNY.
Ajax Rescue Tools donated five 911-RK Super Duty Air Hammer Rescue Kits to FDNY. These were personally delivered by members of the Franklin Park, Ill., Fire Department, who volunteered their efforts in the recovery operations;
American Rescue Technology sent its Hand Vario tool, which was used to open elevator and ambulance doors and lift concrete for fibre-optic placement.
Matjack sent 100 various Matjack airbags with accessories to the WTC site, as well as 30 cots with blankets, pillows and sheets. The company also sent 100 cases of water bottles.
Onan Corp. gave a 20-kW PTO generator for a General Safety Fire Apparatus truck donated and delivered to FDNY.
Sterling Rope Company and PMI donated rescue rope to assist in the WTC rescue efforts.
Angel-Guard Products donated its Rescue Shovel to the FEMA team based in Beverly, Mass., as well as to a general equipment drive for World Trade Center rescuers. The company’s contributions totaled more than $3,000.
Allison Transmissions employees donated $23,098 toward Sept. 11 victim relief. This was matched by Allison’s parent company, General Motors. In addition, Allison has honored all requests for free transmissions for vehicles donated to New York City.Code 3 produced and shipped new light bars to FDNY and sent an installation crew to help restore old fire apparatus to service. Code 3 employees donated $5,750, and the company brought the total to $15,000 for the Widows’ and Children’s Fund of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.
- Task Force Tips (TFT) teamed with Paratech Inc. to deliver Paratech inflatable bags to the Trade Center site. The donated Paratech equipment was loaded onto two TFT trucks and two Paratech trucks and driven 17 hours to New York by employees of the respective companies.
- Cutter’s Edge donated saws and other equipment to the Trade Center site.
- Within minutes of the tower collapses, Total Fire Group decided to build and segregate a stock of almost 400 FDNY-spec Ben 2 helmets. The company surveyed the roster of units that likely responded and produced specialized helmet fronts for those who died. Employees worked around the clock. Tragically, 343 helmets with the specialized ID fronts would be needed. With permission from then-FDNY Commissioner Thomas Von Essen, Total Fire Group worked with both FDNY unions to deliver the customized helmets to families of the fallen for the memorial services. In all, Total Fire Group donated more than $90,000 worth of FDNY-spec Ben 2 helmets and fronts to the families.
Total Fire Group also delivered PRO Boots to the Trade Center site and a tractor-trailer load of the boots to the Pentagon site within 24 hours of the disaster. Additionally, the company donated truckloads of respirators, work boots and work clothes to rescuers.
FDNY called in many retired firefighters and officers to assist the department in making official notifications and to care for family needs. Total Fire Group acquired their names and donated several thousand dollars to supply the retirees with needed dress uniforms. Total Fire Group also raised $25,000 for direct donations to FDNY families.
Outpouring of Support
The outpouring of donations—people, money, equipment and apparatus—by America’s emergency manufacturers following this horrible tragedy was unprecedented. In the midst of a challenging economy, many vendors helped however they could. Competitors worked together. Employees worked tirelessly. Companies gave selflessly.
We’ll never know everything fire and EMS vendors did to help. Much of it was behind the scenes. But these companies came through when it counted, and that’s all that really counts.
Editor’s note: The information in this article was obtained directly from the manufacturers.