Firefighter tapes raise questions

Americans are still awaiting a complete, thorough, and accurate report on the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Officials have released a fire department tape that was recorded while firefighters were inside tower No. 1 of the WTC complex. The tape raises serious questions about the official story that burning jet fuel caused the towers to collapse.

We all were told that the burning fuel softened the steel girders that held the floors in place and they fell. Jet fuel is much like kerosene and burns, at its hottest, at about 900 degrees Fahrenheit. Engineers have reported that to soften the kind of steel used in the WTC construction a temperature of nearly 2,000 degrees is needed.

Firefighters who reached the 80th floor of the north tower reported most of the fire was burned out except for a couple of pockets, which they said could be knocked down with two hose lines.

Nowhere on the tape did the fire department personnel state any concern that the fires were intense enough to threaten their own or others’ safety, nor were they worried about the possibility of structural collapse. They indicated conditions could be controlled, and they planned to get survivors safely out of the building and then bring in equipment and personnel to douse any remaining fires.

The 78-minute tape was found in a room at 5 World Trade Center where radio transmissions were monitored. It is the only known audiotape of firefighters at the scene. The tape became available when federal prosecutors, responding to a legal motion by The New York Times, said it could be released without harming the prosecution of terrorists.

A few brief excerpts from the tape transcript have been published in The New York Times. Otherwise, the national media have said little or nothing about the tape.

Contents of the tape strongly challenge the official story of what caused the collapses. A 47-story building, WTC 7, also imploded even though it was not hit by an airplane or by debris. It did burn.

Port Authority and Fire Department officials continue to debate what the tape reveals about radio communications. There are long stretches of silence, and transmissions from only a few of the companies in the south tower are on the tape. A few snippets from firefighters in the north tower also are heard.

Ladder 15 was one company that reached the 78th floor of the south tower, which was heavily damaged. Transmissions shortly before the collapse indicated firefighters were planning to use the building’s one working elevator to bring down injured workers and take up more firefighters and equipment.

One member of Ladder 15 is heard saying: “You’re going to have to get a different elevator. We’re chopping through the wall to get out.”

Seconds later, at 9:58 a.m. EDT, Chief Orio Palmer tries to contact the ladder company. “Battalion 7 to Ladder 15,” he says. There is no response.

Some structural engineers are calling for a new investigation of the tragedy. They contend a serious error was made in rapidly removing and recycling the structural steel from the towers. They say it may have cost investigators some of their most valuable physical evidence for putting together an answer.

Dr. Frederick Mowrer, associate professor of the fire protection engineering department at the University of Maryland, said he believes that decision may ultimately compromise any investigation. “I find the speed with which potentially important evidence has been removed and recycled to be appalling,” Mowrer said.

Then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s office declined to make any comment about the removal decision at the time.

More information and links to the tape transcript are available at TOP_;VIEW Internet News Inc. or at

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