As I make my way through the 9/11 Commission Report, two paragraphs about the FDNY response to the World Trade Center fire stuck me:
Immediately after the second plane hit, the FDNY Chief of Department called a second fifth alarm.
By 9:15, the number of FDNY personnel en route to or present at the scene was far greater than the commanding chiefs at the scene had requested. […] several other units self-dispatched. Third, because the attacks came so close to the 9:00 shift change, many firefighters just going off duty were given permission by company officers to “ride heavy”.. […] Fourth, many off-duty firefighters responded from firehouses separately from the on-duty unit [..] or from home.
And then this about leadership in the FDNY:
After the South Tower collapsed, some firefighters on the streets neighboring the North Tower remained where they were or came closer to the North Tower. Some of these firefighters did not know that the South Tower had collapsed, but many chose despite that knowledge to remain in an attempt to save additional lives. According to one such firefighter, a chief who was preparing to mount a search-and-rescue mission in the Marriott, “I would never think of myself as a leader of men if I had headed north on West Street after [the] South Tower collapsed.”
Where do we find such men? And how fortunate we are that we have found them….