The numbers of those lost in New York are staggering. The number of those dead or missing and presumed dead in the World Trade Center Towers collapse is more than 2800. This includes 343 firefighters, as well as dozens of NYPD officers, Port Authority officers, and EMS workers.
No other agency suffered nearly the losses of the FDNY. One reason for this was that the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center at the regular shift change, 0900. Twice as many people as normal were in the stations, and everyone responded to the incident when they heard what had happened. "If it had been an hour earlier or an hour later, we probably would not have had this magnitude of loss of life," said FDNY Lt. Brenda Berkman.
It is reported that about 2% of the fire department personnel have been lost, but as Brenda clarifies, "It was not an evenly distributed 2%. Some stations lost a dozen people. The First Division, which is Manhattan from about 42nd Street down, was hit the hardest. But among the Third Division, which is north of there, the lower companies in that division also got hit very hard. And northern Brooklyn, where I used to work, that area also got hit. The company that I was promoted out of, Ladder 105, is missing an officer and five firefighters. The firehouse where Lois Mungay works is missing an entire crew. Rocky Jones' station lost at least thirteen people."
"I know probably half the people on that list," Brenda said. "Including guys that I worked with that I was very close to, and sons of guys I worked with. We have fathers and sons on that list, brothers on that list. The son of the former union president is on that list. But no women firefighters, which was an absolute miracle because a huge percentage of us are in the companies that were hit the hardest."
Amid the monumental losses, it is important to remember that at least 25,000 people were safely evacuated from the World Trade Center complex by emergency workers and volunteer civilians on September 11th. Without the quick response and numbers of personnel immediately at the scene, many other lives would have been lost. Many of these workers died in their efforts to save others.
This article originally appeared in the September 2001 issue of Firework. It is copyright © 2001 Linda F. Willing and may not be reprinted without written permission from the author.
NETWORKING THE WOMEN OF TODAY'S FIREFIGHTING WORLD, AND PROVIDING RESOURCES TO HELP BUILD THE FIRE SERVICE OF THE FUTURE