Saturday, January 01, 2011

New York Magazine: What Are Your Chances Of Surviving a High-Rise Fire?

May 27, 1974
"What Are Your Chances Of Surviving a High-Rise Fire?" by Bryna Yaubman,
"Fire Commissioner O'Hagan says he does not like to think about what would happen if a plane crashed into the World Trade Center." page 65

It wasn't hard at all for me to embed a link into this blog page, which keeps open a view of the illustration that accompanies the article---scanned from page 66 of a vintage New York Magazine and then uploaded to GoogleBooks by somebody else. My first sight of this picture was a startling experience, and I wanted you to have the same effect if possible.  Knowing what we now know, as Donald Rumsfeld would say, we can appreciate the artist's imagination in having foreseen what O'Hagan was only willing to dread: that the World Trade Center was intentionally designed with just this spectacular purpose in mind; their sacrificial demise a foregone conclusion for Mr. Rockefeller and his buddies. These were edifices reverse-engineered for a ritualistic destruction; meant to serve as gigantic symbols of a national wounding or loss, while they also were secretly aiming to be the ultimate in false-flag manipulations. But at least one savvy contemporaneous Jewish magazine editor or writer back then was able to portend all of this inhuman meaning. Call this prophecy if you will, because it definitely feels like a higher intelligence is at work.

Getting on with an interpretation of the 'pataphysical results, read some of the copy:
"Every death in New York City high-rise fires has been elevator-related. Elevators, it cannot be too strongly stressed, are death traps during a fire. Use the stairs. They are fire safe. If the smoke is too heavy in the stairwells, stay where you are until you get instructions. In fact, unless the fire is on your floor stay where you are until someone in authority tells you to leave. Evacuation doesn't make sense in a 110-story building that has more inhabitants than some cities. It can take over an hour to evacuate a 50-story building the World Trade Center would probably take three hours, providing, of course, that no one panicked."

"The professionals recommend that you get off the fire floor and move three stories or so below the original fire. That leaves the floor immediately below the fire for the firemen, and the one below that for evacuees from other floors. In a fire, the danger is greatest above the fire---remember the stack effect. Get below the fire first, then find out what to do."

"These must connect to a fire-alarm system that triggers elevators to go to the lobby, opens dampers in a smoke shaft to pull smoke-filled air out of the building, and rings alarms at a fire-command desk in the lobby and in the nearest firehouse. The fire desk is manned by a fire safety director, who is tested by the fire department for general fire techniques and specific knowledge of the building. The desk has two-way communication with each floor and public address systems that reach offices, halls, elevators, and stairwells. The fire director is responsible for conducting fire drills every few months. He is also responsible for keeping all the equipment in working order."

"There are some buildings in New York City, including the tallest---the World Trade Towers---which do not have to meet the requirements of the city building code. Because they are owned by governments that legally ignore the city laws. In theory, they can even refuse city police and firemen access to their territory. None, of course, do so."

"The World Trade Center, for example, has used the city code as a basis for its own fire safety program. It has a fire safety director who had written a twelve-page booklet explaining emergency procedures for tenants. There are regular fire drills and special badges for floor fire wardens."

"Like other high rises, the World Trade Center has two-way communication between each floor and the fire command station. Unlike other high rises, the World Trade Center also has its own police force---The Port Authority Police---who have special training for fire emergencies. When an emergency occurs, the alarms near elevators can be activated to ring at the fire-police desk in the sub-basement. At a huge console, the officer on duty can open two-way communication with the emergency floor or any other floor, or all floors. He also has a direct line to the fire department dispatcher, and in a few months, the World Trade Center alarms will automatically be passed to the dispatcher if the alarm is not answered within seconds at the police desk."

"In addition to these precautions, the World Trade Center holds special training sessions for tenants to teach them how to cope with a fire emergency without panic. Emergency procedures are outlined, including detailed instructions for evacuation from the buildings and the use of firefighting equipment provided at all stairwells. The booklet and the training sessions also explain evacuation procedures---the first floor first, then the floor above. Although the construction and size of the building may give firemen the jitters, the managers of the buildings are carefully following recommended procedures to reduce the dangers."
Now take a look at this 2:49 minute YouTube video, "Port Authority WTC Back in Business 1993," especially at the 1:14 mark, when we're told that "all standpipe fire hoses are operational," as we see the high-pressure assemblages that are located throughout WTC stairwells, with 125-feet of attached hose. I can find no references in any of the record of civilian , speaking of any ability by the average worker to have fought back in the towers, take matters into their own hands if  it suited them when it suited them, for a different outcome for the victims, and that's called manipulating the facts.

There is a growing choice to be made everyday between what is moral and just  high-ground of a just we can claim as s birthright. and the substandard and disordered reality  of a  moral of a daynd ordery  every-day reality of most people who lay claim to the moral they are moral and desirable in personal experience in reality ordered, moral reality  second-hand, and second-class, reality people are fed in the media narrative around 9/11, with the more honest and treaty we once were fed, to mispercieve as if divined, has become more pronounced recently, adding on an obviousness in the insurance and banking debacles, with our government's penchant for privledged wars of aggression, so it's unlikely we'll ever share any common innocence again.

I'm leaving that paragraph exactly as I wrote it. You try saying it any better.

Look at "Chief Joseph Pfiefer's interview in Firehouse Magazine from September, 2002,
Firehouse: Did you formulate any type of plan?
Pfiefer: The game plan was to pair up the engines and to only take half the amount of hose.
Why would even some firemen carry thirty pounds of hose up the stairs, since it had already been determined only a rescue operation would be undertaken, without attempting a fire suppression?
"We made a conscious decision early on that we weren't going to try and put the fire out, for a number of reasons. One, there was too much volume of fire. Second, the building systems were probably not functional. We had too many distress calls coming in. We didn't think the standpipe system was even going to be intact up there. We had to forgo the whole idea of trying to put any fire suppression efforts in there. This was strictly a search and rescue operation. Hayden Interview

"I specifically remember telling Commissioner Von Essen that we were not attempting to extinguish this fire. It's just strictly a search and rescue operation. We were not trying to put this fire out. We had thousands of people coming down the stairs, and that was our focus, to answer as many distress calls as we could and complete whatever searches we could. That was the focus of our strategy there at the time." Deputy Chief Hayden WTC Task Force Interview Transcript
And especially since hoses was already up there? It's not as if Pfiefer was an amateur:
Firehouse:On average, how many times would you go to the Trade Center in a week or month?
Pfiefer: It's a complex of buildings, so maybe about 15, 17 times a month.

Firehouse:How many years have you worked down here?

The "special training sessions" with "detailed instructions for evacuation from the buildings and the use of firefighting equipment provided at all stairwells," given civilians in 1974, became this afterthought summary in the 9/11 Commission report in 2004:
"Emergency response is a product of preparedness. The Port Authority also sought to prepare civilians better for future emergencies. Deputy fire safety directors conducted fire drills at least twice a year, with advance notice to tenants. But during these drills, civilians were not directed into the stairwells, or provided with information about their configuration and about the existence of transfer hallways and smoke doors. Neither full nor partial evacuation drills were held. In general, civilians were never told not to evacuate up. Civilians were not informed that rooftop evacuations were not part of the evacuation plan, or that doors to the roof were kept locked."
But special governmental status for the trade center's employees was still being bandied about in a 1997 article in Security Solutions, which stated
"the Port Authority and WTC are unique because they have their own police force and emergency response personnel, who serve as an in-house fire brigade. The fire brigade has pre-positioned crash carts with Scott air packs and fire fighting equipment so they can begin fire suppression activities even before the fire department arrives."
With no mention made of such effort being part of the heroic story of that passive day. All they could summarize was this in the 9/11 Commission report
"A principal factor limiting the loss of life was that the buildings were one-third to one-half occupied at the time of the attacks."


  1. Steve,

    Do you have the entire copy of this story from May 27th, 1974? I have been looking for the entire story and this is the closest I found. Do you have the rest of the story by any chance?


  2. Phil-- The window in this blog that contains the illustration of the trade towers is "interactive." If you scroll up or down within it the article will appear in full.