FDNY TO RELEASE ADDITIONAL 9/11 CALLS
Tomorrow, the Fire Department will release 1,613 phone calls from September 11, 2001, that were made to our Fire and EMS dispatchers. The vast majority of these calls were internal and of very short duration - for example, firefighters calling dispatchers to get reporting instructions or find out about recall orders, or dispatchers talking to one another. Of the calls being released, 10 are from civilians inside the World Trade Center, which had not been previously released.
In addition, the FDNY has identified 21 members of the Department who died that day who made calls that are being released (19 firefighters and 2 EMT’s). The families of those 21 members of the Department were contacted and they have been provided with copies of the calls made by their loved ones. There may be other members of the Department who died that day who made calls that are being released, but the Department has been unable to identify the callers. The calls made by firefighters and EMS personnel that day reveal extraordinary professionalism and bravery.
The Department extends its deepest sympathies to the families of firefighters and civilians who died that day whose voices are heard on these tapes.
The release of these calls follows the issuance on March 31, 2006 of 353 calls that were released based upon a decision by the New York State Court of Appeals, subsequent to a Freedom of Information Request by The New York Times and several 9/11 families and their representatives.
After the March release, Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta discovered the existence of an additional tape that had not been provided previously to the Law Department. On learning of this tape, Commissioner Scoppetta immediately directed that a searching, comprehensive review of all master tapes be undertaken, with the goal of identifying and disclosing any and all calls that may have been missed during the first review.
Unlike the initial review, this investigation was conducted by teams of uniformed and legal personnel from the FDNY and the Law Department, under the direction of our Chief of Operations and Deputy Commissioner for Legal Affairs. The reviewers spent months carefully listening and re-listening to all calls that occurred on 9/11 between 8:45 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. The Law Department then reviewed the Fire Department’s work by independently reviewing the calls.
Commissioner Scoppetta simultaneously conducted an inquiry to determine why all calls had not been provided initially. This inquiry revealed that personnel conducting the first review misinterpreted instructions they were given on what kinds of calls to copy for disclosure. Personnel also failed to capture certain 911 calls seeking emergency assistance even though they understood those calls had to be copied and released.
The Department regrets the delays that arose from personnel not completing this process properly the first time, and we are confident that we have now provided all the calls sought in the FOIL request and pursuant to the New York Court of Appeals decision.
Press Contact: Francis X. Gribbon / Tony Sclafani, FDNY (718) 999-2056