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343 reasons to remember 9-11

By   /   October 21, 2010  /   Comments

Editor’s note: These are the prepared remarks by Albany Fire Chief James Carswell’s speech at a ceremony displaying the Patriot Flag ceremony at the Albany Mall. The 1,800-square-foot flag is being displayed throughout the country over 50 weeks; the Albany visit was its only stop in Georgia. For information, visit www.publicsafety.net.

I would like to thank the World Memorial Organization and our local American Legion Post 30 for all their efforts today to honor the men and women who gave their lives to serve others.

It is an honor for the Albany Fire Department to be a part of the raising of this flag. This same flag will be raised in each of the 50 states before finally being raised on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City.

The others here today may talk about how the events of Sept. 11, 2001, affected their lives, their organization, and our country. I would like to focus my time at podium on the 343 NYFD firefighters who died that day doing what I believe is the greatest job in the country.

I can imagine Sept. 11, 2001, started at NYFD just like any other day. At lineup, they joked, they caught up on the latest gossip, and they talked about the fire chief and what needless policy was being implemented at the moment.

They checked their equipment, cleaned what needed to be cleaned, some may have started preparing breakfast, going through the same things that happen during any normal shift.

At 0847 hours all of that changed. This was no longer a normal shift. 0847 Hour over the radio came:

BATTALION 1: Battalion 1 to Manhattan.

DISPATCHER: Battalion 1.

BATTALION 1: We just had a – a plane crashed into an upper floor of the World Trade Center. Transmit a second alarm and start relocating companies into the area.

DISPATCHER: 10-4 battalion 1.

BATTALION 1: Battalion 1 is also sending the whole assignment on this box to that area, K.

ENGINE 6: Engine 6 to Manhattan, K.


ENGINE 6: The World Trade Center – tower No. 1 is on fire. The whole outside of the building. There was just a huge explosion.

DISPATCHER: 10-4. All companies stand by at this time.

UNKNOWN UNIT: Transmit a second alarm on that box immediately.


ENGINE 10: Engine 1-0 to Manhattan.

DISPATCHER: Engine 1-0.

ENGINE 10: Engine 1-0 World Trade Center 10-60. Send every available ambulance, everything you’ve got to the World Trade Center now.

DISPATCHER: 10-4, 10-60 has been transmitted for the World Trade Center, 10-60 for the World Trade Center.

LADDER 3: Three truck to Manhattan.

DISPATCHER: Three truck.

LADDER 3: Civilian reports from up here, a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center for your information.


LADDER 3: Three trucks available.

8:48 Hours

BATTALION 1: Battalion1 to Manhattan.

DISPATCHER: Battalion 1, K.

BATTALION 1: We have a number of floors on fire. It looked like the plane was aiming towards the building. Transmit a third alarm. We’ll have the staging area at Vesey and West Street. Have the third alarm assignment go into that area, the second alarm report to the building, K.

DISPATCHER: 10-4. Second alarm assignment report to the World Trade Center, second alarm assignment report to 1 World Trade Center.

ENGINE 10: Engine 1-0 to Manhattan.

DISPATCHER: Engine 1-0 K.

ENGINE 10: It appears an airplane crashed into the World Trade Center.

DISPATCHER: 10-4. Third alarm’s been transmitted box 8087, third alarm transmitted box 8087 for 1 World Trade Center.

SQUAD 18: Squad 1-8 to Manhattan, K.

DISPATCHER: Squad 1-8 K.

SQUAD 18: …If the first battalion transmitted that it looked like it was intentional, inform all units going into the box it could be a terror attack.

DISPATCHER: …10-4 all units be advised. . .

LADDER 10: Truck ten to Manhattan.


LADDER 10: Truck ten to Manhattan, just so you know this is confirmed. This is confirmed.

DISPATCHER: This is confirmed. 10-4 K.

ENGINE 10: Engine 1-0 to Manhattan.

DISPATCHER: Engine 1-0, go.

ENGINE 10: Roll every available ambulance you’ve got to this position.


What was going through the minds of those responding? Within the first two minutes, they went from the sounding of the alarm to hearing that the plane crashing into the first tower was a terrorist attack.

Some were probably pumped for the challenge, some where concerned for the numbers of injured, some were going over pre-fire plans, SOPs and SOGs. Some may have been concerned with the dangers that they may face.

In Albany at around 0900 hours, a firefighter came over and stated a plane had hit the World Trade Center. We watched on TV as the events unfolded, as I am sure most of you did. We thought it was a terrible accident and must have been a small plane that got off course.

We were pumped for their challenge. We thought about where the victims would be found, and knew there would be a large number of injures and dead.

We thought about our pre-fire plans, SOPs and SOGs, We knew that it was going to be a very dangerous fire to fight and there could be firefighter causalities.

We thought about how we would approach such a fire here, and summed up the tactics would not be much different no matter where this may have happened.

We watched as the second plane hit, realizing that this was no accident. We could not imagine such a thing and how it could be happening on American soil. We thought about the additional injured, the additional deaths, the bigger challenge for the NYFD.

At 0959 hours the south tower collapsed and our thoughts went to the firefighters and where they would have been at that time. We knew they would have been at all levels throughout the stairwells and they would have been spread out on every floor trying to get everyone one out of the building. We didn’t know how many civilians would still be in building, but we knew the loss of firefighters would be great.

We thought about the firefighters in the north tower and hoped they were getting out, and then at 1028 hours the North Tower fell. We looked at each other knowing that the loss of firefighters just increased. We sat stunned as many of you did that day,

Many other events would unfold on Sept. 11, 2001, and in the days, months and years to follow related to the events of that day. However, for the firefighters across this country, the actions of the 343 NYFD who lost their lives that day and all the others who had placed themselves in harms way exemplifies the calling to be a firefighter.

The NYFD conducted themselves on 9-11-2001 with honor, a level of professionalism we all strive to live up to, and a sense of duty to the service of their fellow man without regard to their own safety.

For those reasons, the Albany Fire Department would like to thank American Legion Post 30 for allowing the citizens of Albany-Dougherty to play a small part in recognizing the sacrifices of those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.

Thank you and God bless America!

A huge 60-pound American “Patriot Flag” is hoisted at a ceremony Wednesday at the Albany Mall. The flag is making its way throughout the entire United States before Sept. 11, 2011. American Legion Post 30 organized the Albany ceremony.
James Carswell has worked for the Albany Fire Department for 40 years; he has been chief since 2005.

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  • Published: 1774 days ago on October 21, 2010
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  • Last Modified: October 20, 2010 @ 5:25 am
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Owner / Editor / Writer

Tom Knighton is the publisher of The Albany Journal. In November, 2011, he became the first blogger to take over a newspaper anywhere in the world. In August of 2012, he made the difficult decision to take the Journal out of print circulation and become an online news agency, a first for the Albany area.

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