Editor's Note: We are devoting many posts today to the anniversary of 9/11, with first-hand accounts, insight, and commentary dedicated to that day seven years ago that changed our world. FDNY Battalion Chief Tom Narbutt shares his experience from 9/11. Off-duty at the time, Tom made the treck to New York, arriving on the scene shortly after the collapse of both towers:
FDNY Battalion Chief (Ret.)
As I was responding to the emergency at the World Trade Center, I knew that a catastrophic event had occurred. But it was not until I actually arrived that I realized what had occurred. The scene was surreal. I could suddenly understand what it must have been like during the Lodon Blitz in World War II.
After I arrived at the Command Post set up near the site and was sent over to 7 World Trade Center to get a progress report from the Chief in Command. '7 WTC' ' was the location of the Mayor’s Emergency Command Center.
I will never forget that walk. It felt like I was walking on sand at the beach; The concrete was pulverized into fine granular pieces. What also surprised me was the lack of furniture in the rubble. No office equipment or anything else to be found... Just steel and papers.
Another thing that struck me; The firehouse across the street from the collapse, Engine 10 and Ladder 10, had only a minimal amount of damage.
When I arrived at 7 WTC the Chief was evacuating all fire personnel from the area. The fire had gotten pretty intense in this building from collateral damage it recieved. Before I could even get situated, the building began to sucumb... and a short time later, 7 WTC collapsed... but without the loss of life.
I never ran so fast in my life.
After 40 years with the FDNY, I saw many names of men I had worked with and people I knew: Deputy Comm. Bill Feehan, whom I went to 'Proby school' with.... Chief Tom DeAngelis from Batallion 8... Capt. Frank Callahan of Ladder 35...the list goes on.
After working well into the night, we made it back to Queens to rest, regroup, and return to the site.
When I went back the next day, I made my way up Liberty Street... and thats when I saw it. They antenna from the roof of the North Tower. Standing perfectly straight in the middle of everything. Like it just came straight down from the top.
It took a few days to realize that we lost 343 members. In my years in the FDNY I was assigned to Ladder 12 as a Firefighter, Ladder 35 as a Lieutenant, and Ladder 105 as a Captain. All had lost members, many I had met and one point or another...
...but I have a list of names and pictures of all 343 hanging in my home.
Filed under: September 11th Anniversary
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