Ten years ago Brewster Fire Chief Robert Moran was chief of the Englewood New Jersey Fire Department, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, minutes from the George Washington Bridge.
One hour after the first tower of the World Trade Center collapsed Sept. 11, 2001, Moran was called to the scene and once he crossed the bridge into the city it would be 10 days of 12-hour shifts before he’d see home again.
“I was at work and we were watching it on TV,” he recalled. “We got activated and I had to go home and get my equipment.”
Moran was the safety officer on the New Jersey Urban Search and Rescue team and they staged in Lakehurst. The rode buses, with a police escort to the World Trade Center and were there within five hours.
“Basically after the collapse it was unorganized chaos,” Moran explained. “Anyone who wanted to get onto the pile and assist and help out could. We started talking to the emergency management officials from New York City and we first went to the Javits Center and started to set up a camp and check our equipment.”
It took some time before they were equipped for the dusty rancid conditions at the collapse.
“It was eight to 10 hours after the collapse before we were operating. The entire upper echelon of the New York City Fire Department was involved in the collapse and most were injured or killed,” he recounted. “After the initial team we operated in 12 hour shifts, night and day, then we went back to base camp until the next scheduled time.”
That was life for the next 10 days. There were no rescues for Moran’s team.
“I’ve been on fire squads for 31 years and I had personal friends who were lost and there were a couple of friends I couldn’t locate but I knew they were OK,” he noted.
So he kept working.
“The thing that struck me when we first arrived at the scene was there were no chairs, no computers, just steel and concrete. You couldn’t tell it had been an office space in reality,” Moran reflected, “We recovered some playing cards but it was like a cement and steel moonscape.”
They stayed at the Javits Center, which is a convention center.
“Every time we left the Javits Center, no matter if it was 2 a.m. or 2 p.m. there were people all along the route with signs and American flags. It gave us the impetus to do the job and do it well,” Moran recalled.
He and his co-workers did it well despite the fog of pulverized grit in the air.
“I’m healthy as far as I know,” Moran declared. “The individuals I look at as heroes were those guys walking up the stairs. Many knew they’d never come back but that didn’t stop them from doing their job.”
Moran started work in Brewster last October but he arrived in September in time for the memorial ceremony run by Brewster’s Boy Scouts. Inspired by that he was able to obtain a 31-inch twisted beam of steel from the World Trade Center through the New York Port Authority and with funding from the Brewster Firefighters Association welder Josh Walther of Brewster and Thomas Blute of Harry T. Crosby & Sons Memorials (of Harwich) have fashioned it into a memorial.
On Sunday morning Sept. 11, the town and fire department will dedicate and unveil the sculpture that will remember all firemen, police and other victims of the World Trade Center attack, as well as those who perished in the plane crashes in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon.
Read more: Brewster Chief was a first responder on 9/11, memorial dedication on Sunday – – Wicked Local – Cape Cod http://www.wickedlocal.com/capecod/archive/x462612901/Brewster-Chief-was-first-responder-memorial-dedication-on-Sunday#ixzz1XkONzNRr