9/11 Victims’ Relatives Mark Anniversary with Grief

A mix of emotions between the public and personal at ground zero on 14th anniversary
Retired New York City firefighter Joseph McCormick visits the South Pool prior to a ceremony at the World Trade Center site in New York on Friday, Sept. 11, 2015. With a moment of silence and somber reading of names, victims' relatives began marking the 14th anniversary of Sept. 11 in a subdued gathering Friday at ground zero. (AP Photo/Bryan R. Smith)
Published Friday, September 11, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) — During years of going to ground zero every Sept. 11, Tom Acquaviva has seen crowds diminish at the ceremonies commemorating the terror attacks. But his determination to participate hasn't.

"As long as I'm breathing, I'll be here," Acquaviva, 81, said Friday as he arrived to pay tribute to his late son, Paul.

More than 1,000 victims' relatives, survivors and recovery workers marked the 14th anniversary at ground zero with grief, gratitude and appeals to keep the toll front of mind as years pass. "It's a hard day. But it's an important day. I'll come every year that I can," recovery worker Robert Matticola said.

But if the private ceremony is smaller than in its early years, the date also has become an occasion for the public to revisit ground zero, where the memorial plaza now opens to everyone on the anniversary.

Around the country, the date was marked with what has become a tradition of lowered flags, wreath-laying, bell-tolling and, in New York, reading the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror strikes at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. One woman at ground zero collapsed during the ceremony, apparently overcome by grief; bystanders helped her to her feet.

Family members praised first responders, thanked the armed forces and prayed for unity and security. They also sent personal messages to their lost loved ones.

"You are the reason that I wear this uniform and stand here today," Air Force Technical Sgt. Sparkle Thompson said of her uncle, Louie Anthony Williams.

In Washington, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama stepped out of the White House for a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., when the first of four hijacked planes hit on Sept. 11, 2001, striking the World Trade Center's north tower. Later Friday, the president told troops at Fort Meade in Maryland that he hoped Sept. 11 would inspire thoughts of what binds the country together, while Vice President Joe Biden praised New Yorkers' resilience in remarks to bikers and police officers taking part in a 9/11 memorial motorcycle ride.

The Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville marked the completion of its $26 million visitor center, which opened to the public Thursday. At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and other officials joined in remembrances for victims' relatives and Pentagon employees. Other observances were held around the country.

Some Americans honored the anniversary in their own ways.

"I don't go to the memorial. I don't watch it on TV. But I make sure, every year, I observe a moment of silence at 8:46," electrician Jeff Doran said as he stood across the street from the trade center, where the signature, 1,776-foot One World Trade Center tower has opened since last Sept. 11.

The memorial plaza opened in 2011 but was closed to the public on the anniversary until last year, when an estimated 20,000 people flocked there to pay respects in the evening. Moved by the influx, organizers decided to open it more quickly after the ceremony this year.

Some victims' relatives welcome the openness after years when the site was largely off-limits for construction. "It's a little more comfortable for people to be here," said Alexandria Perez, who lost her aunt, Ana Centeno.

But to Erick Jimenez, a brother of 9/11 victim Eliezer Jimenez Jr., "every year, it's a little less personal," though he still appreciates being with others who lost loved ones.

This year's anniversary comes as Congress is weighing whether to start providing financing for the memorial plaza and whether to extend programs that promised billions of dollars in compensation and medical care to Sept. 11 responders and survivors. They're set to expire next year.

"People are still dying because of what happened," both on battlefields and from illnesses that some responders have developed after exposure to toxic dust, Army Sgt. Edwin Morales said as he arrived at ground zero in remembrance of a cousin, firefighter Ruben "Dave" Correa.

Jyothi Shah read names of victims in memory of her husband, Jayesh Shantitlal Shah, then paused with a message for the public.

"My kids and I would like to humbly thank everyone who has helped us, through the last 14 years, to be able to gently go through the sorrows, the suffering, the pain," she said. "Thank you all very much — the city, the nation, the friends, the family."


Associated Press writers Karen Matthews and Josh Lederman in New York and Kevin Freking in Ford Meade, Maryland, contributed to this report.


Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter @ jennpeltz and Jonathan Lemire on Twitter @ JonLemire.


This story has been corrected to show that the given name of the elder Acquaviva is Tom, not Paul.

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  • Uncertainty Reigns Over Possible End to 9/11 Health Programs

    Federal programs to care for sick 9/11 responders and survivors could expire next year
    DAVID B. CARUSO, Associated Press Published Friday, September 11, 2015

    NEW YORK (AP) — Fourteen years after the 9/11 attacks, a new round of uncertainty looms for people exposed to the million tons of toxic dust that fell on New York when hijacked jets toppled the World Trade Center.

    Two federal programs that promised billions of dollars in compensation and medical care to sick 9/11 responders and survivors are set to expire next year, five years after they were created by Congress.

    As Friday's anniversary of the terror attacks approached, advocates for responders renewed their push for an extension. Bills in the House and Senate would keep the health program going indefinitely while making billions of additional dollars available for compensation for people who fall ill.

    But the debate over an extension is taking place in a fog of ambiguity. Many 9/11 responders, like Charles Diaz, are trying to figure out whether some or all of their care might be covered by private, public or union health insurance plans when the programs end.

    Diaz, a retired Sanitation Department police captain, suffered a broken arm when the twin towers fell and was later diagnosed with a cancer that he blames on exposure to dust. Today, he relies on the World Trade Center Health Program to pay for the anti-leukemia drug Sprycel, which has a list price of $10,300 per month.

    Who will pay for the drug if the program goes away?

    "I have no idea," Diaz said.

    Almost 21,600 people received treatment through the World Trade Center Health Program over the past year, according to federal data, but officials haven't been able to say how many patients might lose access to doctors or medication if the program shuts down as planned next September.

    Most health plans for active or retired city workers do cover cancer care, but some patients can still get socked with thousands of dollars in co-payments, depending on factors including availability of worker's compensation, the strength of their union's pharmacy plan and whether they live close enough to New York to be treated by an in-network doctor.

    "It's a very complex world of cost, and a lot of our members just don't want to go there," said Dr. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which oversees the World Trade Center health program.

    Congress initially capped spending on both the health and compensation programs and designed them to close within five years, because of concerns about the cost of caring for so many people, including many with common illnesses that might be unrelated to 9/11.

    It's not clear how much it would cost to keep the program going, although the safety and health institute has offered one speculative estimate of an additional $1.83 billion to $2.22 billion over the next five years.

    That would be a big increase over the $763 million the program spent from its creation through the end of August. About 58 percent of that money went to patient care. Just under a third covered administrative costs. About $97 million was spent on research and data collection.

    A ceremony was planned Friday at the National September 11 memorial in lower Manhattan to honor the nearly 3,000 people who died in the attacks. As in years past, the names of the victims will be read aloud and bells and moments of silence will mark the moments that the jets struck and the towers fell.

    Thousands of people who have applied for a payment from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, a separate program, are facing a strong likelihood there won't be enough money to pay their awards in full.

    As of Sept. 6, the fund had awarded $1.44 billion to 6,285 people who developed health problems possibly related to the time they spent at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon or the Flight 93 crash site in Pennsylvania.

    But with at least an additional 11,000 applications still to be fully processed, the fund's overseer, Sheila Birnbaum, says she believes it will exhaust its entire $2.78 billion appropriation before every claim is fully paid.

    Unless Congress appropriates more money, beneficiaries will be paid only a percentage of what they are owed when checks are issued in 2017. Birnbaum said she is still not sure how big the shortfall will be.

    Michael Chilton, a former Verizon engineer from Freehold, New Jersey, who retired five years ago after having a chunk of his throat removed during a bout with cancer, said he has already burned through half his retirement savings.

    The 55-year-old said he been counting on a payment from the fund to make up for the additional years he would have spent working if he hadn't gotten sick.

    "If they stop this fund, I'm going to be in trouble," he said.

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    An activist holds a sign in support of 9/11 responders during a news conference, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015, in New York. Lawmakers called on Congress to prevent expiration of the James Zadroga Sept. 11 Health and Compensation Act. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

    Private and Public Reflection at Ground Zero

    Policy and politics kept at a distance as victims’ families gather to remember
    In this Sept. 11, 2014 file photo, David Pykon, right, and his fiancé Shelli Scrimale embrace while observing the 13th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center at the north pool of the memorial in New York. Pykon's brother, Edward Pykon, was killed during the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. Nearly a decade and a half after hijacked planes hit the World Trade Center’s twin towers, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the anniversary continues to be marked with observances around the country. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
    Published Friday, September 11, 2015

    NEW YORK (AP) — After years as a private commemoration, the anniversary of Sept. 11 at ground zero now also has become an occasion for public reflection on the site of the terror attacks.

    An estimated 20,000 people flocked to the memorial plaza on the evening of Sept. 11 last year, the first year the public was able to visit on the anniversary. The plaza will open three hours earlier after Friday's 14th anniversary ceremony, where victims' families will gather for what has become a tradition of tolling bells, observing poignant moments of silence and reading the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror strike.

    "When we did open it up, it was just like life coming in," National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum President Joe Daniels said this week. While the memorial will still be reserved for victims' relatives and other invitees during the morning ceremony, afterward, "the general public that wants to come and pay their respects on this most sacred ground should be let in as soon as possible."

    Nearly a decade and a half after hijacked planes hit the World Trade Center's twin towers, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the anniversary continues to be marked with observances around the country.

    The Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville in western Pennsylvania is marking the completion of its visitor center, which opened to the public Thursday. At the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and other officials will join in remembrances for victims' relatives and Pentagon employees.

    President Barack Obama is scheduled to observe the anniversary with a visit to Fort Meade, Maryland, in recognition of the military's work to protect the country.

    Ohio's statehouse will display nearly 3,000 flags — representing the lives lost — in an arrangement designed to represent the World Trade Center towers, with a Pentagon-shaped space and an open strip representing the field near Shanksville. Sacramento, California, will commemorate 9/11 in conjunction with a parade honoring three Sacramento-area friends who tackled a heavily armed gunman on a Paris-bound high-speed train last month.

    In Washington, some members of Congress plan to spend part of the anniversary discussing federal funding for the ground zero memorial. The House Natural Resources Committee has scheduled a hearing Friday on a proposal to provide up to $25 million a year for the plaza.

    The memorial and underground museum together cost $60 million a year to run. The federal government contributed heavily to building the institution; leaders have tried unsuccessfully for years to get Washington to chip in for annual costs, as well.

    Under the current proposal, any federal money would go only toward the memorial plaza. An estimated 21 million people have visited it for free since its 2011 opening.

    The museum charges up to $24 per ticket, a price that initially sparked some controversy. Still, almost 3.6 million visitors have come since the museum's May 2014 opening, topping projections by about 5 percent, Daniels said.

    Any federal funding could lead to expanded discounts for school and other groups, but there are no plans to lower the regular ticket price, he said.

    This year's anniversary also comes as advocates for 9/11 responders and survivors are pushing Congress to extend two federal programs that promised billions of dollars in compensation and medical care. Both programs are set to expire next year.

    But some of those close to the events aim to keep policy and politics at arm's length on Sept. 11.

    Organizers of the ground zero ceremony decided in 2012 to stop letting elected officials read names, though politicians still can attend. Over the years, some victims' relatives have invoked political matters while reading names — such as declaring that Sept. 11 should be a national holiday — but others have sought to keep the focus personal.

    "This day should be a day for reflection and remembrance. Only," Faith Tieri, who lost her brother, Sal Tieri Jr., said during last year's commemoration.


    Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter @ jennpeltz and Jonathan Lemire on Twitter @ JonLemire.

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    FDNY Adds Names to WTC Illness Memorial

    Members who died of illnesses related to rescue and recovery work on Sept.11 remembered
    After the ceremony, many traced their loved ones' names on the WTC Memorial Wall. (Fire Department City of New York photo)
    Published Thursday, September 10, 2015

    Tuesday, September 8, Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro added the names of 21 members who died of illnesses related to their work in the rescue and recovery effort during and after September 11th to the World Trade Center Memorial Wall at FDNY Headquarters in Brooklyn. A total of 110 FDNY members are now listed on the World Trade Center Memorial Wall, which was unveiled in September 2011.

    "As of this moment, more than 10,000 members of the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program are battling illnesses which are a direct result of their brave and noble work in the rescue and recovery effort at the World Trade Center," said Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. "And now, each year, we gather for this difficult and painful tradition, but one that is undeniably necessary, where the FDNY family remembers the men and women who have lost their lives since September 11th."

    During the ceremony, families placed white roses at the memorial as the 21 members' names were read.

    Those added to the memorial wall are:

    Firefighter Joseph T. Callahan

    Battalion Chief Richard E. McGuire

    EMS Lieutenant Douglas Mulholland

    EMT Luis de Peña

    EMS Lieutenant Michael F. Cavanagh

    Deputy Chief Inspector James W. Mandelkow

    Lieutenant John J. Halpin

    EMS Captain William C. Olsen

    Lieutenant Keith M. Loughlin

    Lieutenant John K. Gremse

    Lieutenant Howard J. Bischoff

    Firefighter Daniel E. Heglund

    Firefighter Robert E. Leaver

    Firefighter Cornell L. Horne

    EMS Lieutenant Thomas Giammarino

    Firefighter Eugene J. McCarey

    Firefighter James J. Marshall

    Firefighter Charles S. Szoke

    Battalion Chief John J. Cassidy

    Captain John R. Graziano

    Firefighter Gregory A. Chevalley

    “You have got to remember that the fires burned for three months down there and the toxins were there - I don’t know what we were walking through,” said retired Firefighter Ray Pfeiffer. “And a good day down at the Trade Center was to find somebody for closure - and that’s why we stayed down there, that’s why we did it.”

    The inscription on the World Trade Center Memorial Wall reads:

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    World Trade Center Steel Still in High Demand

    A look at the relics of the World Trade Center’s twin towers
    In this June 17, 2011, file photo, people touch a 12-foot steel beam from the World Trade Center during the beam's arrival from New York City in Wauseon, Ohio. Pieces of steel from the twin towers have been parceled out to all 50 states and eight countries for memorials and museum exhibits and were used in the construction of the U.S. Navy ship USS New York. Of 2,200 pieces of steel preserved in an airplane hangar in New York City, there are fewer than 30 left. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
    Published Wednesday, September 9, 2015

    In an airplane hangar at New York's Kennedy Airport, fewer than 30 pieces of steel remain from the debris recovered after terrorists flew hijacked planes into the World Trade Center's twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001. Even 14 years after the attacks, applications are still pending for the pieces of metal — mostly for memorials and museum exhibits — and some pieces found a new home as recently as last week in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Florida.

    Here's a look at what has become of the relics of the World Trade Center:



    Beginning in August 1968, builders used 200,000 tons of steel to build the World Trade Center complex, enough to raise the twin towers to heights of 1,362 feet (south tower) and 1,368 feet (north tower). Out of 1.8 million tons of debris removed from the site after the attacks, recovery workers collected 840 pieces of steel, some of which were cut up to make a total of 2,200 separate items. They ranged from 6-inch slabs to massive beams to the 7.5 tons the Navy used in the construction of the warship USS New York.



    The artifacts can be found anchoring memorials or museum exhibits in all 50 states and eight countries: Germany, Canada, Brazil, South Korea, The United Kingdom, Afghanistan, China and Ireland. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey oversees the artifact program, reviewing applications and parceling out the steel and other items to about 1,500 individual nonprofit groups, governments or museums so far. The artifact must be available for the public to view it.



    Fewer than 30 pieces of steel, including pieces of rail tracks, remain. Fewer than 70 other artifacts such as clothing or toys also remain in Hangar 17 at Kennedy Airport.



    Yes. Thirty applications are pending approval, and 40 others are in the review process. Even as recently as last week, an 8-foot-long, 1,100-pound steel beam arrived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, while other pieces were distributed to Ware, Massachusetts, and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida during August. The Ware Fire Department is building a second memorial using trade center artifacts. It received a 1,600-pound piece of steel in August that will be used in a memorial that is still being discussed. At the space center, the beam will be the centerpiece of a permanent memorial at Fire Station No. 1. That memorial includes small-scale replicas of the twin towers.



    No. The Port Authority's mission was to preserve the artifacts and distribute them to worthy groups to memorialize the attacks.


    SOURCES: The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey; the New York State Museum; Associated Press archives

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    FDNY Commissioner Testifies Before House Homeland Security Committee

    Commissioner Daniel Nigro emphasizes how critical funding is in the training of the FDNY
    CQ Congressional Testimony Published Wednesday, September 9, 2015

    Statement of Daniel A. Nigro Commissioner Fire Department, City of New York, New York

    Committee on House Homeland Security

    September 8, 2015

    The FDNY's primary mission is to protect life and property. The Department carries out this mission through firefighting, search and rescue, pre-hospital patient care, and hazardous materials mitigation.

    The planning, training, and equipment mentioned below can be applied in any mass casualty situation, whether a terrorist attack, natural disaster, industrial accident, pandemic outbreak, or biological event.

    Preparedness Core Values

    The Department builds systems, like our Tiered Response System, which can be scaled and adapted to ensure the right mix of resources and expertise, depending on the type of incident or emergency. The Department also builds systems of collaboration, partnering with other City agencies and regional responders to share lessons learned, and to develop interagency plans, protocols, and drills.

    Members of the Department have acquired a tremendous amount of knowledge and know-how since 9/11, and this knowledge is helping the City plan and prepare for extreme hazards and emergencies. The Department has also invested in specialized training facilities revamping our Fire and EMS Academies and environments, like our Shipboard Simulator and our Subway Simulator. These tools not only serve the FDNY, but are considered City and regional resources.

    The Center for Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness

    At the core of these preparedness efforts is the Center for Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness (CTDP). We created the Center in 2004 to be the focal point for the Department's strategic preparedness, creating dynamic and practical approaches to counterterrorism, disaster response, and consequence management. The development of CTDP came out of the 9/11 McKinsey After Action Report (AAR). The Center's core competencies include: intelligence sharing, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and security preparedness, exercise design, emergency response planning, education, strategy and technology.

    Intelligence-sharing: The intelligence branch of the Center has expanded the FDNY's role to become an active producer of intelligence tailored to the needs of firefighters and emergency responders. The Department uses a PC and web-based communication tool - Diamond Plate - to deliver critical training and situational awareness content directly to firehouses and EMS stations in real-time. With firehouses and EMS stations located throughout the City, this tool has helped the Department leverage technology to share information and to break down distances. In recent months, this platform has been a key resource to disseminate information to our first responders on Ebola and Legionnaires' Disease videos, information, procedures and safety protocols and to share messages with our entire workforce.

    WMD and Security Preparedness: The primary mission of the Center's WMD branch is to coordinate strategy and tactics, and share chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive research. For example, we are currently working with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to collect, share, and map radiological data during radiation emergencies, which will allow our commanders in the field and at the FDOC to visualize contaminated areas. We have also strategically deployed a stockpile of WMD medical counter-measures in EMS stations and hospitals, and we also train and carry WMD antidote kits on every 911 ambulance and fire apparatus.

    Exercise Design: CTDP conducts workshops, tabletops, functional, and full-scale exercises to test the knowledge and efficacy of the Department's all-hazards response protocols. CTDP also makes recommendations on improvements in detailed after-action reports. The CTDP has partnered with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), NYPD, NYC Office of Emergency Management, the West Point Combating Terrorism Leadership Center, and the Centers for Disease Control to plan and prepare exercises for natural, accidental, and terrorist events. On average, CTDP runs 35-40 preparedness exercises each year.

    Emergency Preparedness: The Center creates and updates emergency response plans to provide both general and detailed tactical direction for units responding to terrorist events and natural disasters. As part of this planning, the Center helps develop and maintain the FDNY's continuity of operations plans. This team has developed plans for the following events: Haz-Mat release, subway chemical attack, bioresponse, improvised explosive device, collapse rescue, and hurricanes. As mentioned above, the Department is also building systems of collaboration. An example of this is the work that the FDNY and the NYPD are doing to respond to a large-scale Active Shooter Mass Casualty Incident (MCI). The FDNY/NYPD have worked together to develop a "Response to Active Shooter Incidents" emergency response plan, and have begun conducting drills on the plan.

    One of our concerns is the use of fire as a weapon. The devastating 2008 attacks in Mumbai represent a game-changer. Over three days, a city of nearly 14 million was held hostage while 166 people were murdered in multiple locations, introducing a new model for terrorist attacks. The salient features of a Mumbai- style attack include multiple terrorists, multiple targets, and multiple modes of attack deployed over a prolonged operational period to amplify media attention. Despite all of the violence, the most iconic images from that event remain those of the Taj Mahal Hotel on fire. The pictures of people at the windows of the hotel trying to escape the flames are reminiscent of 9/11.

    Despite the striking images from that major attack, interest in using fire as either a strategic or a tactical weapon has not been well understood and largely ignored to date. However, it is a weapon that could significantly alter the dynamics of a terrorist attack. FDNY is working closely with NYPD, the FBI, and The Department of State's Diplomatic Security Services to develop the procedures for joint tactical teams - teams comprised of fire personnel and security forces operating together - in an environment with armed terrorists, fire and smoke, and mass casualties. All three agencies have been working with us in full scale exercises at the Fire Academy and more are being planned.

    Special Operations Command

    In addition to the extensive planning discussed above, the FDNY has significantly enhanced our Special Operations Command (SOC) capabilities, so that we are more prepared than ever to deal with incidents involving biological, chemical or radioactive releases, major structural collapses, maritime operations, and other major incidents with mass-casualty potential.

    The underpinning of these enhancements is the "Tiered Response System" that we established to ensure the optimal availability and distribution of response resources. This tiered-response framework entails training FDNY units in a variety of response capabilities at incremental proficiency levels and strategically locating those units across the City.

    Let me illustrate this Tiered Response structure for hazardous material incidents. At the highest level - the Specialist Level - is our Hazardous Material Unit and Haz-Mat Battalion Chiefs who have over 600 hours of professional training and carry advanced instrumentations. The next level is comprised of 12 Haz-Mat Tech II Units and 39 Haz-Tac Ambulances. At the next level down we have 25 Haz-Mat Tech I Units, 25 Decontamination Engines and 29 Chemical Protective Clothing Ladder Companies who can operate in hazardous environments. At the foundation level, all fire and EMS personnel are trained on Haz-Mat/WMD operations. As you can see, our tiered response system provides a very robust structure for Haz Mat response and mitigation.

    Our collapse search and rescue members are structured in a similar manner and receive the highest levels of training the Department offers in technical rescue and victim-removal, including more than 280 hours of specialized rescue training in collapse response and rescue operations.

    Our Emergency Medical System, the largest in the US, is also tiered, starting with certified first responders, EMTs, paramedics, specialized rescue medics, and HazTac paramedics and HazTac EMTs. The FDNY's Tiered Response System allows the Department to adapt to extreme events by creating Task Forces to give the City and the region highly trained teams that can rapidly respond to large-scale hazards and emergencies.

    Organizational and Communications Infrastructure

    Of course, enhanced capabilities are only one component of our preparedness goals. The Department has also taken steps to improve our organizational and communications infrastructures as well.

    The Department has:

    -- Developed a fully staffed and trained Incident Management Team (IMT), who played a key role in the Harlem and second avenue explosions.

    -- Launched an automated recall program that can target off-duty members to ensure resources are available to maintain coverage throughout the City during any emergency.

    -- Implemented a communications channel between on-scene firefighters and the EMS command.

    -- Implemented a second EMS citywide channel to handle concurrent Multiple Casualty Incidents.

    -- Developed and launched a Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) information and awareness campaign in firehouses and EMS stations.

    -- Implemented the Fire-ground Accountability Program (FGAP), which consists of a number of inter-related applications to enhance fire-ground safety and accountability.

    -- We've made an investment in our workforce, providing senior Fire and EMS Officers with customized leadership and strategic- management training. This includes our Fire Officers Management Institute (FOMI) partnering with GE and Columbia University and our West Point Combatting Terrorism Leadership program. These programs help the Department build the next generation of leaders.

    The Department has successfully deployed a three-part field communication system that represents a critical step in improved fire-ground communications. The system consists of 13 vehicle- based, crossband repeaters, which allow radio signals to be transmitted into dense building environments; 75 highpowered portable command post radios; and pre-programmed handie-talkie radios with several customized features that have improved on- scene tactical and command communications and firefighter safety.

    The FDNY has also built a state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Center at FDNY Headquarters to enhance information sharing, command and control communications, and on-scene situational awareness capabilities. The Department is also completing a redundant back-up facility on Staten Island, which will serve as a fully functional back-up operations center where command and control personnel within the FDNY and first responders can plan, coordinate, and share relevant information with each other, and with other public safety agencies.

    An element of this system is the concept of a Networked Command: Linking on-scene situational awareness capabilities with command and control-level operations at Emergency Operation Centers (EOC). Lastly, with the assistance of DHS and the Congressional Homeland Security Committee, FDNY has a secure room to receive and share classified Intelligence with DHS, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), Fusion Centers and Law Enforcement about the current threat environment. Information sharing is critical to prevention, preparedness and response.

    Homeland Security Grant Funding

    The FDNY cannot reinforce enough how critically important federal funding has been in supporting the initiatives outlined above. Since 9/11, the FDNY has worked to build partnerships with key funders notably the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES). To these agencies, we have communicated the FDNY's unique role in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from acts of terrorism, natural disasters, and other complex emergencies. To date, the FDNY has been awarded over $560 million in federal funding through DHS.

    The FDNY has utilized DHS funds to rebuild after 9/11 and to prepare our first responders to manage the potential threats and hazards they face each day in the field. Grant funds support the equipment, planning, drills, technology, and training they need to prepare for and respond to these threats.

    An example is the Times Square Car Bomb. Through their training, first responders from Engine 54 and Ladder 4 immediately recognized the threat potential of the smoking vehicle. They took actions that day that reduced injuries, protected property, and saved lives.

    During Super Storm Sandy, the FDNY fought devastating structural fires, responded to over 5,000 medical emergencies and rescued more than 500 residents. The FDNY was able to draw upon DHSfunded training and equipment during Super Storm Sandy operations.

    A third example is the City's response to Ebola. In managing potential cases of EVD, the FDNY was able to draw upon a preparedness framework combining training, resources and drills that specialized units developed preparing for Bio-Terrorism threats. This includes operating in chemical protective clothing, which as an added benefit, also protects against blood-borne pathogens. DHS funds helped build and train the HazTac and HazMat Units that played a key role in the response, and supported the purchase of specialized PPE and resources that provide emergency medical transport, treatment and patient care.

    By investing in core areas planning, incident management, leadership, communications, patient triage and treatment, Haz- Mat, marine firefighting, and search and technical rescue we are better prepared today when disaster strikes. These capabilities served the Department and the City during the Times Square incident, during Super Storm Sandy, the building collapses in East Harlem and Second Avenue, the response to Ebola, and during the train derailment along the Metro North commuter rail line.

    These capabilities are a resource to the City, and when called upon, the entire New York region.

    Again, I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak on these key topics, and reiterate that Fire Department resources can adapt to a changing threat environment. We have structured our core competencies to respond to routine and extreme events - including acts of terrorism.


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    New York Chaplain Provides Round-the-Clock Service to First Responders

    Interview with Rev. Joseph Bayne highlights his call to the ministry, fire and EMS
    JANE KWIATKOWSKI RADLICH, The Buffalo News Published Tuesday, September 8, 2015

    If the Rev. Joseph Bayne were not a priest, he would be a firefighter, such is his family's commitment to emergency service. In his hometown of Baltimore, Bayne's brother Robert served as a city firefighter. His mother, Jean Bayne, retired at age 75 as medical office secretary in Baltimore fire headquarters. And Joseph Bayne Sr., Bayne's father, died a hero fighting a Baltimore high-rise fire in 1977.

    When Bayne decided to join the Franciscan order after graduating from high school in 1975, he knew his first-responder roots would eventually come into play. He moved to Buffalo in 1989 when the order asked the young Franciscan to open a youth shelter here. Today, Bayne serves as executive director of the Franciscan Center, a shelter for young men on Seneca Street.

    But he does so much more.

    As chief chaplain of Erie County Emergency Services and chaplain for the Buffalo Fire Department, he provides round-the-clock support to first responders under the toughest of circumstances. Bayne responded to the crash of Flight 3407 in Clarence within 25 minutes. He was at ground zero in New York City within days.Driving a Ford Edge pushing 180,000 miles, Bayne leads a busy life. At age 57, he calls his vocation a ministry of presence.

    People Talk: How do you unwind?
    Rev. Joseph Bayne: I treasure time off because you do get emotionally tired. I listen to people's problems a lot, the kids who live here and then my fire and emergency people. They tell me I handle crisis and other people's issues well. I give them a shoulder and some support without the judgment. Do you know what I mean? But it's exhausting. Sometimes you have to wring out the sponge by doing something happy and go unload. Thank God for friends. And my own spiritual adviser. Life changes at the drop of a hat.

    PT: Do you have trouble sleeping?
    RJB: I did - nothing to do with the fire emergency stuff. I finally got the sleep test. I'm with the CPAP now and it helps. I have the goofiest dreams. I still dream I'm in high school and the three minutes you have between classes I forget my locker combination to get my books.

    PT: What's the last book you've read?
    RJB: I just finished Pope Francis' encyclical on creation and how we need to better take care for Mother Earth. He just doesn't talk about ecology and air pollution, he talks about how we treat each other and humanity. We're never going to take better care of the earth until we respect ourselves and each other.

    PT: Why are the numbers of people entering religious vocations down?
    RJB: Our society. Families used to promote it more. Consumerism. Me-generation. Breakdown of the family. I think it's a number of issues, not any one thing. But young people out there are still hungry for some kind of spirituality. Even the kids in the youth shelter ask me questions. They're struggling. They're searching for something to hold onto.

    PT: What do you think is the major mistake of parents today?
    RJB: Trying to be their daughter's or son's buddy. It's normal for kids to hate for a little bit, and not want a curfew, or not have to do their homework. Being a parent is tough, especially when you're the only one standing up to the plate.

    PT: You're on the scene of an incident. What would you not be without?
    RJB: As a Catholic priest I always have the holy oils in the car, but my job is to be there for people, and it doesn't matter what religion they are. Tonight I have a firefighter and his fiancé coming in for counseling before marriage. I always say: What the heck do I know about being married? But you know what I share with them? What I learned from my parents. They had a good marriage. As a kid I didn't realize it but I was taking notes.

    PT: I bet you never get bored.
    RJB: My life is diverse. I am a people person because my parents were people persons. I'm not good at doing a budget, but I can handle a crisis. I can go into a room of strangers and not be afraid to talk to them. I'm there to reaffirm their feeling, that what they are thinking is not wrong.

    PT: What do you do when words don't work?
    RJB: Hugs, tears - I can cry. My father taught me that it's OK for men to cry.

    email: jkwiatkowski@buffnews.com

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    New York Cities Update Plans for Oil Train Emergencies

    Gov. Andre Cuomo directed agencies to review prevention and response capabilities
    In this June 5, 2014 file photo, firefighters and other first responders are familiarized with tank cars on the CSX Safety Train in the Port of Albany in Albany, N.Y. Three years after Albany became a major hub for rail shipments of highly flammable crude oil from North Dakota, emergency management officials are still grappling with response plans to deal with a potential disaster. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
    Published Saturday, September 5, 2015

    ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Three years after the Port of Albany became a major hub for rail and barge shipments of highly flammable crude oil from North Dakota, emergency management officials are still grappling with training and response plans to deal with a potential disaster like the devastating derailment and explosion that killed 47 people in Quebec two summers ago.

    As many as 44 trains per week, each loaded with at least a million gallons of crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken Shale region, move through upstate New York on rail routes from the west and north to converge in Albany before continuing by rail or Hudson River barge to coastal refineries.

    Crude-by-rail shipments expanded dramatically after Global Partners, a fuel shipper, got a state permit in 2012 to increase petroleum shipments from 450 million gallons a year to 2.2 billion gallons through its Port of Albany facilities.

    In January 2014, Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed state agencies to review crude oil transport throughout the state and make recommendations to prevent and respond to derailments and spills. The effort has spurred new training programs focused on crude oil and foam firefighting, containment and collection boom training, and acquisition of foam equipment.

    The Department of Environmental Conservation is working with local agencies in 21 counties along oil train routes to develop spill-response plans, determine where specialized equipment such as fire-suppressing foam and oil-absorbent booms and pumps should be pre-positioned, and train first responders. The response plans for all 21 counties are to be finished by April 2016.

    The city of Albany has an emergency response plan that deals with all types of hazardous materials, but doesn't have a plan specifically for oil trains, Albany Fire Chief Warren Abriel said.

    "The CSX rail line has paid for six to eight firefighters to attend a two-week training program in Colorado on railroad incidents," Abriel said. "We have done several tabletop and live exercises over the years. The last one with oil trains was last spring."

    Global Partners and Buckeye Partners, fuel transport companies with large tank farms at the Port of Albany, have staged practice drills with first responders simulating oil tanker car fires and oil spills on the Hudson River.

    Buffalo doesn't have an emergency plan that specifically addresses oil trains, but Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield Jr. said one will be completed soon. The city's fire department has had extensive oil train emergency training from rail companies, including a tabletop exercise sponsored by CSX this year, Whitfield said.

    Buffalo is one of the New York communities slated to get fire-suppressant foam and other specialized oil-train disaster equipment and related training from the state this year.

    Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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    Sick 9/11 Workers Call for Zadroga Act Extension

    Rescue, recovery workers call Congress to extend funding of benefits, health care
    Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, second from right, is joined by Congressmen Charles Rangel, left, Peter King, second from left, Eliot Engel, third from left, Jerrold Nadler, right, and Frank Pallone, background right, during a news conference, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015, in New York. Lawmakers called on Congress to prevent expiration of the James Zadroga Sept. 11 Health and Compensation Act. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
    Published Friday, September 4, 2015

    NEW YORK (AP) — Dozens of 9/11 rescue and recovery workers gathered at the World Trade Center site on Thursday to demand that Congress extend programs offering money and free health care to people exposed to toxic dust after the terror attacks.

    Since 2011, federal programs have offered substantial aid to people with illnesses potentially linked to the tons of pulverized concrete and glass released into the air when the twin towers collapsed.

    Tens of thousands of police officers, firefighters, construction workers and others have gotten monitoring exams and free treatment for a wide variety of ailments through the World Trade Center Health Program. Several thousand have applied for payments from a $2.78 billion compensation fund.

    Both of those programs are set to expire next year. Advocates for the sick say there won't be enough money in the compensation fund to pay every ill worker. And they say the health programs are essential for people with complicated, often incurable illnesses.

    Congress initially limited the programs because of concerns about their massive cost.

    The former ground zero workers and 9/11 survivors were joined Thursday by U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, Peter King, Charles Rangel and Eliot Engel, all of New York, and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey. They have supported a bill that could make billions of additional dollars available to people with illnesses possibly linked to the attacks.

    "It's not enough to praise their heroism," Maloney said.

    Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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