well B; these primarily were injured, handicapped, elderly, or severely over-
weight civilians, in some cases being assisted by other civilians.
By 9:59, tenants from the 91st floor had already descended the stairs and
exited the concourse. However, a number of civilians remained in at least stair-
well C, approaching lower floors. Other evacuees were killed earlier by debris
falling on the street.
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. Five
factors account for this disparity. First, while the second fifth alarm had called
for 20 engine and 8 ladder companies, in fact 23 engine and 13 ladder com-
panies were dispatched. Second, 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"
and became part of those on-duty teams, under the leadership of that unit's
officer. Fourth, many off-duty firefighters responded from firehouses separately
from the on-duty unit (in some cases when expressly told not to) or from
home.The arrival of personnel in excess of that dispatched was particularly pro-
nounced in the department's elite units. Fifth, numerous additional FDNY per-
sonnel--such as fire marshals and firefighters in administrative positions--who
lacked a predetermined operating role also reported to the WTC.
The Repeater System.
Almost immediately after the South Tower was hit,
senior FDNY chiefs in the North Tower lobby huddled to discuss strategy for
the operations in the two towers. Of particular concern to the chiefs--in light
of FDNY difficulties in responding to the 1993 bombing--was communica-
tions capability. One of the chiefs recommended testing the repeater channel
to see if it would work.
Earlier, an FDNY chief had asked building personnel to activate the
repeater channel, which would enable greatly-enhanced FDNY portable radio
communications in the high-rises. One button on the repeater system activa-
tion console in the North Tower was pressed at 8:54, though it is unclear by
whom.As a result of this activation, communication became possible between
FDNY portable radios on the repeater channel. In addition, the repeater's mas-
ter handset at the fire safety desk could hear communications made by FDNY
portable radios on the repeater channel. The activation of transmission on the
master handset required, however, that a second button be pressed. That sec-
ond button was never activated on the morning of September 11.
At 9:05, FDNY chiefs tested the WTC complex's repeater system. Because
the second button had not been activated, the chief on the master handset could
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