Some firefighters have told officials
that they never heard an evacuation order after the second plane
hit Sept. 11, The New York Times and the Daily News reported. As
a result, they said, they did not know that Chief Joseph Callan
had broadcast a message over the radios in which he ordered the
firefighters to "come down to the lobby," the Times said.
Deputy Chief Peter Hayden, who was in charge of the command
post in the north tower lobby, told the Daily News, "There were
companies as high as the 50th floor, and we weren't able to
communicate with them to come down."
A spokesman for the department, Francis X. Gribbon, told the
Times that investigators had not determined whether the reported
problem resulted from a breakdown in reception or transmission
or whether some other factor may have prevented some
firefighters from hearing the command.
"Some people heard it and some people didn't," he said.
"We're doing an investigation and when we get everyone's
testimony we hope to have a comprehensive idea of just what
The Daily News reported that the problem with the Motorola
two-way radios functioning in high-rises was well known, and a
special booster system was installed at the World Trade Center
after the 1993 bombing there.
But the booster system was knocked out during the Sept. 11
attack, Port Authority spokesman Allen Morrison said. It relied
on a 3-foot antenna atop 5 World Trade Center, which was taken
out by falling debris.
The Fire Department has already interviewed more than 300
people to get a better sense of how the fire companies responded
on the day of the attack and what problems they encountered.
Among those interviewed have been 135 fire officers or
firefighters. Gribbon said it was unclear how many of those
interviewed had indicated that they had a problem hearing the
Officials have estimated that several hundred firefighters
had rushed into each of the towers and worked there successfully
to evacuate some 25,000 people before the towers fell.
A total of 343 firefighters lost their lives in the attack.
Officials have cautioned that even those who heard the command
to leave the tower might have ignored it because they were
simultaneously hearing urgent calls for help from fellow
firefighters who were trapped and needed assistance.