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Press Releases / 2005 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 5, 2005


Copies of materials will be released to news media
in accordance with court ruling issued earlier this year.

The New York City Fire Department today announced that it would make available to the news media on Friday, August 12, 2005 certain records relating to the tragic events of September 11, 2001 . The release of this information is in accordance with a New York State Court of Appeals ruling issued on March 24, 2005 in a lawsuit brought by The New York Times and some families seeking to gain the materials under the state's Freedom of Information Law.

These records will be provided to the news media based on advance requests made on a first-come, first-serve basis.

What records will be available?

The City will be providing:

  • Fire Department oral histories, conducted in the months following the September 11 th attacks, of firefighters describing their experiences
  • Recordings and transcripts of radio communications involving Fire Department personnel (primarily dispatch recordings) as well as a log of EMS calls on September 11, 2001 .

How did the document release come about? Was there a court ruling?

Following September 11 th, The New York Times and certain families requested various records related to the attacks under the Freedom of Information Law. The Fire Department provided numerous materials but objected to providing certain records based on the right to privacy and other exemptions recognized by the Freedom of Information Law.

On March 24, 2005 , the New York State Court of Appeals -- the State's highest court -- ruled in the matter. It upheld many of the City's contentions, authorizing various types of redactions to protect the privacy interests and other concerns urged by the City. Otherwise, it directed that the materials be released. In compliance with the Court's decision, the Department is releasing to The New York Times and the families in the lawsuit the oral histories and radio communications (including a log of EMS calls), with appropriate redactions, on Friday, Aug. 12, 2005 .

Can you give me more details on the Oral Histories and the Radio Communications? What, if anything, will be redacted?

1. Oral Histories

The Court of Appeals ordered that the oral histories conducted of approximately 500 Fire Department personnel in the aftermath of the attacks must be disclosed, except for those portions likely to cause serious pain or embarrassment to interviewees who believed that the interviews were confidential. Therefore, the oral histories have been redacted (i.e., had material deleted from them) in accordance with the Court's decision.

2. Radio Communications

With respect to the radio communications, the Court of Appeals determined that opinions and recommendations made by Fire Department personnel during dispatch calls on September 11 th do not need to be disclosed, but that all other aspects of those communications had to be disclosed. The Department determined that no portions of the recordings fall within this exemption, and therefore all of the September 11 th dispatch communications will be made available.

In addition to the recordings of dispatch communications, the Department will also disclose a printed log of EMS calls referred to as the Emergency Medical Service Computer Aided Dispatch (EMS CAD), as well as a transcript and tape which have been previously released of communications over the repeater system in the World Trade Center. Consistent with the Court's opinion, the Department has redacted from the EMS CAD medical information and information that would identify the callers, and has determined that no portion of the repeater transcript or tape is subject to redaction.

Will these materials be made available to WTC families?

The City is sending advance letters to key September 11 th groups advising them of the document release. Copies will be made available upon request to the families as noted in that letter correspondence.

Contact: Francis X. Gribbon and Virginia Lam (FDNY) (718) 999-2056

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