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Fire EMSEMS TodayEMS Insider

From the Ashes


The Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center left a gaping hole in the heart of FDNY. Hundreds of responders lost their lives, and hundreds more have spent each day since then grieving their personal losses and rebuilding the department.

Part of this rebuilding process involves replacing FDNY’s burned and battered apparatus fleet. Although not nearly as devastating as the loss of a brother firefighter, losing a rig is tough.

Massive Dispatch
Moments after American Airlines Flight 11 ripped into 1 World Trade, emergency dispatchers received a flood of radio and telephone calls reporting the carnage. At 0846 hrs, the Manhattan Communications Office (CO) transmitted a first-alarm assignment for 1 World Trade at Manhattan Box 8087. (FDNY still uses a box system to locate emergencies. All intersections in New York are identified by one specific box number, and most intersections still have an actual alarm box a person can use to report an emergency.) By 0859 hrs, CO had transmitted a full fifth-alarm assignment for Box 8087.

Additional alarm assignments occurred in rapid succession. CO transmitted a third alarm for Brooklyn Box 1377, located at the entrance to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel on Brooklyn’s side, to form a staging area. When United Airlines Flight 175 hit 2 World Trade, CO transmitted a fifth alarm assignment for 2 World Trade at Box 9998. CO subsequently transmitted a second alarm for Manhattan Box 50, located at West and Albany, to fight another structural fire at the World Trade Center complex; a second alarm for Box 2033, located at Battery Park City; a single alarm for Staten Island Box 8000, located at the ferry terminal in St. George; and a single alarm for Manhattan Box 320, located at the Brooklyn Bridge.

How many FDNY vehicles sat on scene before the towers collapsed? Multiplying all the World Trade Center-related alarms by FDNY’s alarm dispatch protocol (see sidebar p. 84) indicates a minimum of approximately 141 apparatus filled south Manhattan the morning of Sept. 11.

Where were these vehicles located? Most of the responding apparatus lined the streets for a two- to three-block radius around the World Trade Center complex, within easy striking distance for the 110-story Twin Towers.

The waves of broken steel, concrete, flame and wind released during the towers’ disintegration wiped out 96 FDNY vehicles. Apparatus destroyed include:

  • 18 1,000-gpm pumpers;
  • 19 ladder trucks;
  • 11 support units (rescue trucks, hazmat tenders, high-rise units, etc.);
  • 10 ambulances;
  • 16 Suburbans; and
  • 22 sedans

Various reports have estimated the replacement cost for all these rigs at $47 million to $50 million.

Fortunately for the millions of New York citizens who rely on FDNY for fire protection, FDNY’s Fleet Services Division had prepared for such an event and immediately began pushing new and spare vehicles into service. Several apparatus manufacturers also stepped up production efforts to help FDNY rebuild its ailing fleet as soon as possible. These combined efforts had the department back at full strength less than four days after Sept. 11.

Spare Wheels
Replacing FDNY’s damaged rigs proved a major undertaking. According to Tom McDonald, deputy commissioner of FDNY’s Fleet Services Division, the department had excellent contingency plans in place prior to Sept. 11. He says FDNY kept as spares approximately 10% of its total number of ladders, including rear mounts and towers, and roughly 20% of its pumpers. In addition, the department kept another 22 spare pumpers—complete with hose—in reserve. These vehicles, located throughout the city’s five boroughs in various firehouses, were put into service immediately following the attacks. “If it were not for the hard work of [my] people—some who came in from retirement and worked hour after hour putting equipment back into service—the department would not have been able to recover so quickly,” McDonald says.

New Rigs
The incomprehensible vehicle losses FDNY endured required more than back-up apparatus, however; the department needed new trucks. Offers to bolster FDNY’s pared-down fleet poured in from numerous manufacturers. In the end, FDNY stuck predominately with its usual manufacturer—Seagrave Fire Apparatus. “While [we were] happy with all of the offers that came in, [we] decided that it was best to stick with [our] long-time apparatus builder, Seagrave,” McDonald says. “This was due to saving time on training firefighters on a new type of apparatus, as well as Seagrave having the specs already in-house.”

On Oct. 8, Seagrave received an order from the City of New York for 54 heavy-duty custom fire trucks. The order, valued at $25 million, includes 17 rear-mount aerials; five tractor-drawn aerials; four high-pressure pumpers; three squad pumpers; and 19 1,000-gpm pumpers. Six Seagrave custom chassis will be shipped to Aerialscope, a Seagrave affiliate, to build five tower ladders.

“All of the replacement apparatus has been ordered and is being manufactured right on schedule,” says George Kanaugh, marketing and sales manager for Seagrave. Contrary to popular rumor, Seagrave did not halt production of other apparatus to accommodate FDNY’s replacement order. “We already had 29 rear-mounts, nine 95' towers and one 75' tower on order [from other customers] before Sept. 11 … that will be fulfilled on time,” Kanaugh says. “No other business has been turned away.”

In order to accomplish these demanding production goals, Seagrave added a third shift to its production lines. “Our employees [are] working overtime to complete this large order of 54 additional pieces of equipment,” Kanaugh says. “In addition, many of our employees are multi-tasked. This means they can work on the aerial ladder line, the pumper line and other areas. This saves a great deal of time and also ensures the same quality on all pieces of equipment that are manufactured.”

On Jan. 22, Seagrave’s first four replacement fire trucks left the company’s factory in Clintonville (Wis.) bound for New York City. The trucks included two custom pumpers, a tractor-drawn aerial and a 100' rear-mount aerial that features a custom, full-body memorial mural. All of Seagrave’s replacement units will carry a custom bronze-cast medallion inscribed “Dedicated To New York’s Bravest—9-11-01.” The company will continue to deliver replacement apparatus to FDNY through late fall.

E-One also took orders for new trucks from FDNY. The company will manufacture five 26' heavy-duty, walk-in rescues mounted on tandem-axle Cyclone II cab/chassis; two 15', nonwalk-in tactical support units mounted on International 4x4 cab/chassis (these vehicles will include rescue cranes and quick-deployment rescue boats mounted atop the bodies); two walk-in, high-rise units mounted on Mack MR cab/chassis (each will have a breathing-air cart assembly that carries equipment for high-rise building fires); and one satellite pumper mounted on a Mack MR cab/chassis. This unit will have a 4,000-gpm water/foam turret and two 2,000-gpm monitors.

It’s on Us!
Several manufacturers are donating apparatus to FDNY. E-One, for example, donated a 19' aluminum rescue body to be used as a decontamination unit. The vehicle will be mounted on a Freightliner FL80 two-door cab/chassis donated by Freightliner trucks.

Seagrave, on behalf of its employees, donated a complete custom pumper. Ferrara Fire Apparatus built a pumper on an Inferno chassis with money raised through a statewide fund-raising campaign in Louisiana. Dubbed the “Spirit of Louisiana,” the pumper was crafted by Ferrara employees who donated their own time to complete the rig before Christmas. The vehicle, Engine 283, was assigned to Brooklyn’s busy Brownsville neighborhood.

Pierce donated a rescue vehicle built on a Kenworth chassis—the truck will be assigned to the second piece of Haz-Mat Company #1 in Queens. Luverne Fire Apparatus teamed with Spartan Motors to build and donate a pumper built on a four-door Spartan Gladiator chassis. American LaFrance donated a heavy rescue truck built on a Condor chassis. And finally, General Safety Equipment, a branch of Rosenbauer America, donated a heavy rescue truck built on a Mack Trucks Inc. chassis.

Ordinary citizens are also helping pick up the tab. For example, Akron, Ohio, and its surrounding communities initiated a fund-raising campaign that raised $1.4 million in just one month. The community arranged to pay Seagrave for one of the nine 95' tower ladders it built for FDNY. The ladder truck was recently delivered and assigned to Ladder 163 in Queens. Remaining money from the Akron fund was used to purchase two new FDNY ambulances and three NYPD police cars.

Bank of America, which lost three employees in the World Trade Center, raised funds through its staff across the nation and donated three pumpers to FDNY in its employees’ memories.

At the end of the Civil War, New York firefighters donated a hose carriage to firefighters in Columbia, S.C., after Columbia burned when Union troops took the town. Columbia pledged then to return the favor if New York City ever needed similar help, and the town didn’t forget. Students from Columbia’s White Knoll Middle School launched a fund-raising drive that eventually collected $520,000 in donations from all over the country and used the funds to purchase FDNY a new fire truck.

Getting Its Fleet Back
When the hijackers took down the Twin Towers last September, they delivered a terrible blow to FDNY in lives lost and, to a much lesser degree, apparatus destroyed. FDNY proved resilient in getting its fleet back to full strength thanks to the department’s contingency plans, its members’ hard work and the generosity of apparatus manufacturers and ordinary folks.

FDNY Fast Facts
FDNY protects more than 8 million people in five boroughs covering 320 square miles.

The department responded to more than 29,281 structural fires and 31,058 non-structural fires in 2000.

FDNY EMS units responded to 1.2 million medical emergencies in 2000, 400,000 of which were critical/life threatening.

The department employs approximately 11,400 officers and firefighters, 2,800 emergency medical technicians and paramedics and 1,200 civilians.

The Bureau of Fire Prevention performed 181,328 inspections in 2000.

FDNY’s Alarm Dispatch Protocol
First Alarm
Second source call: Three engines, two trucks, one battalion chief, rescue and squad companies;
Working fire (10-75) call: four engines, two trucks, one fast truck (a rapid intervention team), two battalion chiefs;

Second Alarm: Four engines, two trucks, one battalion chief, field communications unit, tactical support unit, rehab unit and other special calls as needed

Third Alarm
Four engines, one truck, one battalion chief;

Fourth Alarm
Four engines, one truck;

Fifth Alarm
Four engines, one truck;
High-rise office building (10-76) call: Four engines, four trucks, three battalion chiefs, additional rescue companies with hazmat, collapse units and squad companies.

FDNY Apparatus Destroyed on Sept. 11
MP8818 Spare E-210
MP8912 Spare E-4
SP9374 Engine 55
SP9401H Engine 6
SP9402H Engine 10
SP9404H Engine 34
SP9405H Engine 65
SP9602 Spare Sq-252
SP9703 Engine 15
SP9709 Engine 21
SP9723 Engine 204
SP98014 Squad 1
SP98021 Engine 1
SP98032 Engine 76
SP00017 Engine 7
SP00029 Engine 202
SP00030 Engine 28
SP00035 Squad 18
SL8904 Ladder 8
SL9403 Ladder 132
SL9406 Ladder 10
SL9411 Ladder 11
SL9413 Ladder 3
SL99008 Ladder 113
SL01002 Ladder 4
SL99012 Ladder 101
SL99013 Ladder 20
SL00002 Ladder 5
SL00003 Ladder 6
ST9402 Ladder 105
ST99001 Ladder 18
ST99006 Ladder 9
ST99007 Ladder 1
SR9601 Rescue 1
SR9602 Rescue 2
MH 9705 High Rise 1
MH9706 High Rise 2
IM98002 TSU 1
IM9101 TRV (SQ.1)
IH9704 MSU 4
MS9304 Satellite 1
GM8931 FCU spare
GM98005 HMT Sq-18
GM98006 HMTSq-252
GM98009 HMT R-5
FM8963 Shop Truck
FM9161 Shop Truck
FA94030 Amb. 295
FA97031 Amb. 217
FA97047 Amb. 302
FA97148 Amb. 311
FA97179 Amb. 506
GM9166 RAC 3 spare
GM9445 spare pool
GM9458 Div. 11
GM9739 spare pool
GM9744 Batt. 12
GM9745 Batt. 1
GM9756 Batt. 6
GM99039 EMS
GM99117 SOC
GM99118 Safety
GM99126 Batt. 46
GM99130 Batt. 48
GM99154 EMS
GM99168 Batt. 4
GM99172 Batt. 9
GM99175 Batt. 7
GM99180 Batt. 2
FS9359 EMS
FS9708 spare pool
FS9711 Operations
FS9716 SOC
FS9720 Operations
FS9724 Haz-Mat
FS01041 EMS
FS010142 Chief of Dept.
FS01045 Chief of Ops.
FS01047 Dep. Comm.
FS20003 Div. 1
FS20004 Div. 3
FS20008 Div. 11
GS9147 OEM
GS9313 Comm.
GS9332 BFI
GS9345 PIO
GS9350 Operations
GS9353 spare-pool
GS 9520 BFI
GS9522 BFI
GS9534 Fleet Services
GM9555 EMS
GS99004 EMS

Source: Fire Apparatus Journal


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