3 World Trade Center Reaches Full Height

Ceremony marks topping out of newest of the WTC buildings
VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press Published Friday, June 24, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) — The World Trade Center's newest, $2.5 billion skyscraper reached its full 80 stories Thursday — one of three high-rises now up at the site, with one more to go.

Almost 15 years after the twin towers collapsed, the site of the Sept. 11 terror attacks has turned into a resplendent hub of soaring architecture, bustling businesses and urban greenery.

But a series of construction security fences signal that there's still plenty of unfinished work before the 16-acre site is totally back to life.

A ceremony Thursday marked the topping out of 3 World Trade Center, with about 1,000 workers signing a massive construction bucket that was lifted to the brim, along with a big American flag. It was a victory for the tower that had languished for a few years before financing finally came through.

Several workers at the ceremony still remembered the 16-acre pit of fiery debris they helped to clean up after the 9/11 terror attacks.

"This is very emotional," said 53-year-old Frank Hussey, a native of Jamaica who watched the original towers fall in 2001 and has worked on every skyscraper that is now up at the site. "To have witnessed what happened and to go through all the different phases of cleaning up and construction, and watch people's spirits go from low to high — all that makes today a great day."

The building at 3 World Trade is one of three new skyscrapers that replace the decimated twin towers. The others are the 72-story 4 World Trade Center and the main edifice of the rebuilt site, the 104-floor One World Trade Center that dominates the post 9/11 Manhattan skyline and is the city's tallest building.

A fourth planned skyscraper is 2 World Trade Center, the foundation of which was built up to street level several years ago. That's where the money also stopped, due to the lack of an anchor tenant that would make financing more likely.

Developer Larry Silverstein, who is responsible for erecting towers 3 and 4, told The Associated Press he is confident he will find an anchor tenant, noting "failure was not an option."

As for the rest of the 16-acre site, there is the shimmering new Transportation Hub, with huge, white "wings" that Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava says represent the souls of the nearly 3,000 people who died in the 9/11 attack.

The all-white marble underground concourse that crosses the entire trade center site is filled with shops that will also open in August.

Blocked off by chain-link security fences and armed guards is a bulky new dark gray building at the site's southwest corner, with vehicle ramps leading underground. This is the security center that will screen trucks loaded with deliveries, linked via subterranean tunnels to garages for tour buses and the entire trade center.

The hard-core, concrete and steel construction of the complex is softened by the grass and trees surrounding the two memorial pools built in the footprints of the twin towers — steps from 3 World Trade Center.

And in the works on the roof of the security center overlooking the memorial is the elevated public Liberty Park, nearing completion with a "Living Wall" installation of periwinkle, Japanese spurge, and Baltic ivy.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Construction workers pose for photos in front of the United States flag before a topping off ceremony for 3 World Trade Center, Thursday, June 23, 2016 in New York. It's one of three new skyscrapers that replace the twin towers destroyed almost 15 years ago. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
In this Wednesday, June 22, 2016 photo, 3 World Trade Center, center, has reached its full height of 80 stories in New York. The building is one of three new skyscrapers that replace the twin towers destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

New York Searches State for Contaminated Water

Surveys sent out to locate cancer-causing chemical in foam and other products
Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, R-Troy, with photos of children from Hoosick Falls, N.Y., prepares to speak during a news conference at the state Capitol calling for hearings on the state's handling of PFOA contamination in drinking water in Hoosick Falls, on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Published Wednesday, June 22, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York environmental regulators are looking statewide for potential sites of groundwater contamination from a cancer-causing industrial chemical previously used to make Teflon and other non-stick, stain-resistant and water-repellant products.

The Department of Environmental Conservation sent formal surveys last week to more than 150 facilities that may have manufactured or used PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, Peter Walke, the agency's chief of staff, told The Associated Press in a recent interview.

Surveys also were sent to fire departments, airports and major storage facilities that may have used the related chemical PFOS, a component of firefighting foam.

"If any facility is found to have discharged contamination into the community, the state will pursue those responsible to the fullest extent of the law," Walke said.

Responses are due to the department by July 15. The agency will analyze the survey data to determine the need for future site investigations.

The action follows an investigation and cleanup launched in January in the rural factory village of Hoosick Falls, where high levels of PFOA were initially found in drinking water in testing done in 2014 by a resident concerned about a perceived high cancer rate.

DEC is holding St. Gobain Performance Plastics and its plant's predecessor, Honeywell International, liable for cleanup costs including installing temporary filtration systems and developing a new water supply.

A group of Hoosick Falls residents and several state and federal elected officials are calling for a public hearing on why the state Department of Health didn't tell residents not to drink their tap water until 18 months after the agency knew of the contamination, and then acted only under pressure from an Environmental Protection Agency official.

"For 18 months, we were not told that there was poison in the water our children were drinking," said Mary Ann Jacobs, whose two children, ages 9 and 10, were found to have blood levels of PFOA about 20 times the national average.

Because PFOA is unregulated, drinking water supplies aren't routinely tested for its presence. The EPA last month issued a standard for long-term exposure to PFOA, following years of public pressure by advocacy groups.

A top aide to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo met with Jacobs and other residents at the Capitol last week and outlined the state's actions, including a health study that includes blood testing and an analysis of cancer occurrence. He said it's up to the Legislature whether to hold hearings.

After the Hoosick Falls contamination was publicized in January, testing near similar factory sites in the region uncovered more residential well contamination in Bennington and Pownal, Vermont, and Merrimack, New Hampshire.

Vermont launched a statewide survey in April and has reported no additional water contamination. New Hampshire's Department of Environmental Services in May released a list of 44 companies it had identified as potential users of PFOA. Contamination has been found in seven drinking water wells near one of them in Amherst, the New Hampshire department spokesman Jim Martin said.

New York's statewide survey for potential PFOA contamination sites was launched by Cuomo's Water Quality Rapid Response Team, which was formed in February to address crises like that in Hoosick Falls.

Liz Moran, a water quality specialist at Environmental Advocates of New York, said DEC's survey is a good first step but it relies on reporting by potential polluters who don't have the public's trust.

"We think there should be testing for PFOA and PFOS statewide in every water supply," Moran said.

New York federal lawmakers also have weighed in. Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat, said Monday a hearing would be helpful. "We have an obligation to these people," he said.

Republican Rep. Chris Gibson called on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to investigate the response by state and federal officials to the contamination in Hoosick Falls after the state Assembly dropped plans for such a hearing in April.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, has asked the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to examine the health effects of PFOA and what action can be taken to eliminate the public health risk when it is detected.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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Wind-Driven Fire Destroys Two Buffalo Houses

Three adults and four children escape fire on Buffalos’ East Side
MATT GRYTA, The Buffalo News Published Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Two houses were destroyed Monday afternoon on Buffalo's East Side when a wind-whipped fire ripped through the structures on Swinburne Street, fire officials said.

Three adults and four children managed to escape on their own from 5 Swinburne.

Firefighter Paul J. Britzzalaro from Ladder 5 ran into the burning house to rescue the family's two cats, officials said. The other house, next door at 9 Swinburne, was vacant.

The two-alarm fire near the Central Terminal was reported at about 2 p.m., and, because of the strong winds, it took Buffalo firefighters about an hour and a half to get the blaze under control.

"It was too dangerous to go inside so we fought the fire from outside," said Division Chief Patrick M. Britzzalaro, brother of the firefighter who saved the cats.

Paul Britzzalaro managed to grab one of the cats in the living room and got it outside, he said.

The other one started running up the stairs, but the firefighter caught it and carried it outside to safety.

Fire officials have not yet determined the cause of the blaze.

The vacant house was immediately torn down.

Third Battalion Chief Mark G. Hillery said the other house also would be demolished, but not until the family had a chance to retrieve any belongings from the ruins.

Damage was estimated at $135,000 to 5 Swinburne and $90,000 to 9 Swinburne.




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  • DNA Helps Give Closure to Family of FDNY Battalion Chief Killed on Sept.11

    DNA helps family bury FDNY battalion chief killed on Sept. 11
    The flag-draped casket of New York Fire Department Battalion Chief Lawrence Stack is carried out of his funeral in St. James, N.Y, on Friday, June 17, 2016. Walking behind the casket in white is his widow, Theresa Stack. Friday would have been the couple's 49th wedding anniversary. Stack died at the World Trade Center in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists attacks. (AP Photo/Frank Eltman)
    Published Friday, June 17, 2016

    ST. JAMES, N.Y. (AP) — Thousands of firefighters in their dress blues stood at attention and saluted Friday as a flag-draped casket passed carrying two tiny vials of blood, the only known remains of a comrade who died in the Sept. 11 attacks.

    For 15 years, the family of Battalion Chief Lawrence Stack was unable to put him to rest with a Roman Catholic funeral Mass because no trace of his body was ever found in the rubble of the World Trade Center. But the way was finally cleared when they recently discovered the blood, which the 58-year-old Stack had donated as part of a bone marrow drive for a child with cancer before the attacks.

    "He gives blood for a young cancer kid — that's just Larry," said Rich Brandt, a chief with the Long Beach, California, Fire Department, who began his career as a member of the Fire Department of New York and learned under Stack when Stack was a captain in a Manhattan fire house. Brandt showed off a bracelet with Stack's name on it that he said he has worn since 2001.

    "He was kind of a dad to me," Brandt said.

    Stack's own two sons — both New York City firefighters — stood watch on the back of a ceremonial firetruck bearing the flag-draped casket with the vials of blood as it passed by firefighters and dignitaries standing at attention. The New York City Emerald Society Pipe Band led the procession, playing "Amazing Grace" as the casket was led into Saints Philip and James Roman Catholic Church, in St. James on eastern Long Island.

    Lt. Michael Stack said during the funeral service that his father, who was a safety expert with the department, had been working in his office preparing a report on the deaths of three firefighters killed exactly 15 years ago Friday — June 17, 2001. When he learned that planes had flown into the World Trade Center, Stack raced to the scene and began helping people flee the burning towers. He was last seen assisting a man who had injured his leg when the south tower collapsed with him on the ground below.

    Brandt said his friend could always be counted on to help others.

    "Not only did he help people that day, but his entire career and his entire life was about helping people," Brandt said.











    Theresa Stack, marking what would have been her 49th wedding anniversary Friday to the fallen firefighter, told reporters last week that she had never given up hope that his remains would be found. About a year ago, her family reached out to the New York Blood Bank after recalling both had donated blood weeks before 9/11. When vials of his blood were located, plans were made for a funeral.

    Theresa Stack, who was presented with her husband's helmet as she left the church, said the family wanted to hold a public funeral "so people don't forget" 9/11.

    Ray Pfeiffer, a retired firefighter with cancer, attended the funeral in a wheelchair.

    "Larry was killed by a terrorist," he said. "Whether it was done 15 years ago or whether it was done yesterday, he deserves a line-of-duty funeral and he's going to get that respect. Larry was a good man."

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    Vials of Blood Allow Closure for FDNY Family Fire Damages Apparatus in New York Firehouse

    Honoring Bravery at FDNY Medal Day

    FDNY firefighters, paramedics and EMTs are recognized for acts of valor
    FDNY Lieutenant Adam J. Vilagos receives the Hugh Bonner Medal and the Honor Legion Medal from Mayor Bill de Blasio for the rescue of an infant above the fire floor in a Queens home on Nov. 17, 2015. (FDNY photo)
    Published Monday, June 6, 2016

    Digging for survivors in a collapsed building, saving hostages from a burning apartment, pulling a baby from a roaring fire - all acts of bravery and quick thinking.

    At an FDNY medal ceremony Wednesday on the steps of City Hall, families, friends and firehouse brothers and sisters reflected on these heroics performed by firefighters and rescue personnel across the five boroughs last year.

    "When people from around the world talk about the greatest of New York City we think about the FDNY - the two are synonymous," Mayor Bill de Blasio told several hundred people at the ceremony honoring 67 recipients of the 2016 medals awarded for valor, bravery and teamwork in the face of danger and death.

    Read the Details in the 2016 Medal Day Book

    "They have done the extraordinary," said the mayor, who was joined by FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro.

    "This is a celebration of the dedication and training of these members," Nigro said. He recounted the tale of off-duty firefighter Michael Shepherd, who used his lifesaving and explosives training at a gas explosion at a Lower East Side apartment building on March 26, 2015.

    Though he didn't have his protective gear, Shepherd ran into the burning smoked-filled building that was surrounded by panicked residents. Shepherd used a fire-escape ladder to rescue a woman on the third floor before returning to the apartments to search for more people.

    In the process, he assessed the condition of the building and warned the battalion chief that the building's floors and walls were near collapse. All firefighting units were ordered away from the building, which shortly after fell to the ground.

    "The soles of my boots melted and the paint from the ladder was all over my hands," said Shepherd, who was also at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

    "I'm not afraid. I grew up having to be strong," said Shepherd, 49, of Brooklyn. "You never ran away," he said wearing the firefighter uniform buttons that belonged to his great-grandfather who fought the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory blaze in Greenwich Village in 1911.

    Lt. Victor Milukas, 45, of Valley Stream, said medal day "is a great day - more than words can explain." Milukas helped to save a 2-year-old toddler from a burning second-story bedroom. He found the boy unconscious underneath a pile of clothing on Aug. 24, 2015, in Brooklyn.

    "It was one o'clock in the morning and there were three other children. The mother tired to go back but couldn't," said Milukas of Ladder Company 159 in Brooklyn. After several days in a coma, the boy began to recover. "Today he is as good as perfect," Milukas said. He added that he developed a bond with the boy and his family. "Both our families had a whole day together. It was a good lesson on how precious life is for all of us."

    Receiving the World Trade Center Memorial Medal was Ladder Company 19 in the Bronx. Lt. Daniel O'Keefe, firefighters Kevin Donovan, Scott Kratchel, Brian Mohr, Paul Samuelson and William Willets responded to an apartment fire where a woman had been stabbed and held captive. Working with the NYPD, the firefighters rescued the victim and her assailant while containing a working fire.



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    FDNY 2016 Medal Day Ceremony

    FDNY Shows Off Latest Tech for Paramedics, Firefighters

    New vehicles, equipment and programs aim to enhance operations
    IVAN PEREIRA, Newsday Published Thursday, June 2, 2016

    With ambulance and fire calls on the rise, the FDNY is turning to new technology to improve its operations and efficiency when saving lives.

    There were more than 1.6 million ambulance runs in 2015, a 9% jump from the year before, and firefighters handled about 3,000 more fire emergencies in 2015 than in 2014, according to the department's statistics.

    FDNY Deputy Chief Michael Fields said the agency is looking at new vehicles, gadgets and programs to take on those extra cases and already has been rolling out some of its prototypes and pilot initiatives throughout the five boroughs.

    "We are thinking outside of the box and doing any type of idea that works," he said.

    The FDNY gave amNewYork an inside look at some of its newest tech during a special presentation at their facility in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

    Ambulance Charging Stations

    The department gets frequent complaints about the noise and exhaust from ambulances that are running while parked between calls.

    The EMTs need that engine on in order to be ready at a moment's notice, and more importantly, to power radio and medical refrigeration systems.

    "People don't understand why we have to keep it running, but it's very crucial to jobs," said Paul Miano, the FDNY chief of EMS Haz-Tac Battalion.

    The FDNY has come up with a system where the vehicles will park in a special designated spot throughout the city and plug into a "charging station" that is about 51 inches tall and 7 inches wide. Once plugged in, the ambulance can run its equipment without any gas power and will cut down on 45 tons of pollution annually.

    One station has already been installed in Staten Island and two more are coming to Maspeth and Woodlawn. The department plans to install 39 stations, which cost $12,000 a piece but are funded by a state grant, throughout the city.

    Re-Sized 'Rescue Medic' Ambulance

    One of the FDNY's biggest tech advancements is its new, supersized ambulance.

    Since last month, paramedics have been operating 11 "rescue medic ambulances" throughout the five boroughs that are 3 1/2 feet higher, 60 feet longer and four feet wider than the average.

    Miano said the biggest request from paramedics was for more space, but the engineers decided to do more than just give crews additional headroom. The exterior contains storage compartments suitable for the equipment needed for every conceivable situation.

    "By increasing the size of the ambulance, we increase the size of the equipment and increase the number of patients we can treat by 100%," Miano said.

    The truck can fit two paramedics in the front cab and one paramedic and a patient in the back.

    Samantha Neverson, a paramedic who has been working in the new vehicle, said treating patients has been more efficient because of the additional space. The size and air horn have helped improve arrival times, she said.

    "People definitely get out of the way faster," Neverson said. "They hear the horn, then look at this thing and are like 'Whoa. What is that? I got to get out of the way.'"

    Miano said the department aims to deploy 12 additional rescue medics, which cost about $308,000 each, by 2018.

    Fly Cars

    During high level emergency calls, the FDNY typically deploys at least two ambulances to the scene: one for treatment and another for treatment and transport.

    Starting next month, the FDNY will begin a pilot program in the Bronx, which has the slowest response times in the city. The "fly cars," which are modified Chevy Suburbans, will be equipped with medical gear and drugs for emergencies to treat high level cases and be manned by two EMT professionals. Although they won't be able to take a patient to a hospital, the cars will still administer life saving care.

    "We're freeing up more ambulances this way," Fields said.

    The Bronx will also be the borough where the FDNY conducts its tactical response pilot program this year, which will add five more ambulances in the borough.

    "We are looking at particular areas and we will see where we don't have enough units, Fields said.

    Rescue Boats

    Warmer weathers means more people will be out on the water. Last year, the department responded to 2,250 marine emergencies and they are preparing for a large number this season too.

    "It's boat season so it triples the traffic on the waterways," said FDNY Lt. Jim Lynch, who works in marine operations. "We need to be ready for anything."

    The department has a fleet of three small "bravo" boats at docks throughout the city and each one is equipped with tech ready for everything from a person overboard to an injury on a boat. Aside from a padded bed for treatment and top-of-the-line radar and radio equipment, Lynch said the boats also include a foldable ramp in the bow to interact with other ships.

    In the fall, the FDNY added a 66-foot long, 90,000 pound, jet-propelled fireboat, the "William M. Feehan," to its marine fleet. The $4.7 million "mid-sized" vessel can carry a full crew of firefighters to any emergency in the water and near the coast.

    The boat has a top speed of 41 knots, 16 knots greater than the older model boats, it can shoot 8,000 gallons of water a minute and it is equipped with 200 gallons of foam and 100 pounds of dry chemical for fuel-based fires.

    Eddie Weyhrquch, FDNY boat pilot, said the mid-size vessels are all designed to act as an advanced water pump, so firefighters who are battling a fire near a coast use water straight from the river.

    "You don't get a lot of these on too many rescue boats," he said.



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