LAFD History – September 11, 2001 – A Day to Never Forget

August 31, 2017

Let us not ever forget what September 11th now means. It was named Patriots Day for good reason. Many current members of the LAFD were not yet on the job when the U.S. was attacked by terrorists on 9-11-2001. Those members of the new rookie classes of 2017/18 were probably teenagers when it occurred. We must not forget the loss of more than 3,000 people and those 343 members of the FDNY who sacrificed their lives for others.

On a personal note, I lost a very good friend at the incident. Battalion Chief Ray Downey was killed at the command post in the tower collapse. He was a national expert in Urban Search & Rescue and a true friend. We taught US&R together and worked on the National Response system with FEMA to get the program started. – Frank Borden

September 11, 2001 reinvigorated America’s gratitude for all firefighters’ efforts. In response to the terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center, FEMA activated and deployed the LAFD CA-TF 1 (California Urban Search & Rescue Task Force 1) with 70 members and a Critical Incident Stress Management Team (CISM).

The military aircraft transporting our US&R team was the first aircraft in the sky after the attack. Their mission included search and rescue, body extrication, and assistance in the use of canine search teams. In addition, many LAFD members responded on their own to assist their FDNY brothers.

The CISM mission evolved into a completely unprecedented Firefighter Assistance Program, which was delivered at and near ground zero as well as at various FDNY stations and other sites.

The following is an excellent letter written by Fire Chief William Bamattre to all LAFD members:

From the office of the Fire Chief . . . . .

September 19, 2001

In the wake of the incomprehensible events of last week, we as a nation, a Department, and as individuals find ourselves focusing on the short-and long-term impact of terrorism on American soil. As news commentators have repeated over the last several days, life as we knew it will never be the same and the extent of this change will only be determined over time. The attacks on our nation have left us feeling potentially vulnerable to the evil whims of eccentric extremists and never in our lifetime have we had to deal with such uncertainty

As a nation, we are now awaiting our government’s response to last week’s terrorist attacks. Most certainly, our lives will be affected regardless of where or how our leaders choose to respond. Not since World War II have Americans been called upon to think of the national interest, but we undoubtedly will be forced to. With approximately one-third of Department members under age 40, our nation’s inevitable military action will be a new phenomenon.

The fury of events on the morning of September 11th thrust our Department into a state of heightened readiness. Our field members, staff members, and civilian members were all impacted by our immediate need to ensure the protection of the City of Los Angeles. While I firmly believe that our preparations were adequate, I believe areas in need of improvement were uncovered. Issues such as the deployment of personnel, the staffing of resources and the transportation of our civilian members to another work site showed that operational plans need to be re-evaluated and updated immediately. I call on our Department’s top managers to lead and respond accordingly. And I expect all members to cooperate fully while remaining focused on the potential problems that may occur within our City. As members of the Los Angeles Fire Department, we are charged with protecting the City of Los Angeles and faltering in this mandate will not be tolerated.

As individuals, these catastrophic events are indeed troubling for everyone. As emergency responders, our families face the added burden of concern for our safety while we perform our duty to the public. At this time, we do not know how or when our nation will respond, only that it will. Therefore, we must prepare ourselves, our families, and our households for the unforeseen which may be lengthy and difficult.

Together, we shall face whatever crises are forced upon us. And, as always, we shall remain strong, vigilant, and prepared.

Fire Chief

We will again hold our annual 9-11 Memorial Ceremony at the Hollywood Fire Museum and Fallen Firefighters Memorial. We start at 0700, so plan to be there early when the LAFDHS, speakers and attendees remember the impact of that day and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Submitted by Frank Borden

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