Whether it was 1 year after the event or 19 years after the event.........with fading memories, pictures always provide us with vivid reminders.
The 9/11 attacks not only became the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history, they were also the deadliest incident ever for firefighters, as well as for law enforcement officers in the United States. The New York City Fire Department lost 343 among their ranks, while 23 New York City police officers and 37 Port Authority officers lost their lives, according to the 9/11 Commission that investigated the attacks and emergency response.
"We had a very strong sense we would lose firefighters and that we were in deep trouble, FDNY Division Chief for Lower Manhattan Peter Hayden later told the commission. “But we had estimates of 25,000 to 50,000 civilians, and we had to try to rescue them.”
READ MORE: 9/11 Timeline
On the ground, fire department officials quickly realized that there was no hope of controlling the blaze. Instead, they focused on the desperate mission of evacuating the office workers who were inside the two massive buildings. Though they surmised that the twin towers had suffered structural damage and the fire-suppression systems might have been rendered inoperable, they had almost no solid information about the situation inside. So the firefighters rushed into the unknown.
But probably no one realized just how bad it would be. Among the 2,753 people killed at the World Trade Center site on 9/11, 343 were FDNY fatalities. That somber figure far surpasses the 78 lives lost in the next biggest catastrophe for firefighters in history, an Idaho forest fire back in 1910. The 9/11 FDNY deaths amounted to more than a third of the approximately 1,000 emergency personnel at the scene, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s final report on the World Trade Center attack. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, two of FDNY’s fatalities were emergency medical technicians, and the remainder were firefighters.
READ MORE: The 9/11 Commission
Nearly two decades later, there isn’t an official account of precisely where firefighters were when they died. But a 2005 New York Times analysis, which was based upon eyewitness accounts, dispatch records and federal reports, suggests that roughly 140 firefighters lost their lives in or around the south tower, while around 200 died inside the north tower or at its base. NIST estimated that about 160 firefighters were outside the two buildings when they met their deaths, probably from being struck by pieces of the buildings.
The first fatality occurred at approximately 9:30 a.m., when a civilian leaping from the south tower struck firefighter Daniel Suhr, according to the 9/11 commission report and an oral history interview with FDNY Captain Paul Conlon, who witnessed it. “It wasn’t like you heard something falling and could jump out of the way,” Conlon recalled.
Climbing the stairs clad in heavy protective clothing and carrying equipment was a grueling task, even for physically-fit firefighters. Exhaustion quickly set in, and some became separated from their units, according to the national 9/11 commission’s report. To make things even more difficult, radio communication became difficult as they ascended higher inside the buildings, whose steel frames and steel-reinforced concrete interfered with the signals. “When attempting to reach a particular unit, chiefs in the lobby often heard nothing in response,” the 9/11 commission report noted.
But even without those vulnerabilities, there would have been no way to prepare for what happened at 9:59 a.m., when the south tower suddenly disintegrated, collapsing into itself in just 10 seconds. There was no time to flee, and the collapse killed all the firefighters and emergency personnel inside the building, according to the 9/11 commission report. After being crushed under a mountain of rubble—250,000 tons of steel, concrete and furnishings—some of their bodies weren’t recovered until months later.
United States 
September 11 attacks, also called 9/11 attacks, series of airline hijackings and suicide attacks committed in 2001 by 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda against targets in the United States, the deadliest terrorist attacks on American soil in U.S. history. The attacks against New York City and Washington, D.C., caused extensive death and destruction and triggered an enormous U.S. effort to combat terrorism. Some 2,750 people were killed in New York, 184 at the Pentagon, and 40 in Pennsylvania (where one of the hijacked planes crashed after the passengers attempted to retake the plane); all 19 terrorists died (see Researcher’s Note: September 11 attacks). Police and fire departments in New York were especially hard-hit: hundreds had rushed to the scene of the attacks, and more than 400 police officers and firefighters were killed.
The September 11 attacks (often referred to as 9/11)[a] were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks resulted in 2,977 fatalities, over 25,000 injuries, and substantial long-term health consequences, in addition to at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage. 9/11 is the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history and the single deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in the history of the United States, with 343 and 72 killed, respectively.
|September 11 attacks|
|Part of terrorism in the United States|
|Date||September 11, 2001; 19 years ago |
8:46 – 10:28 a.m. (EDT)
(2,977 victims + 19 Al-Qaeda terrorists)
(see also responsibility and hijackers)
|No. of participants||19|
September 11, 2001
- 8:46 a.m. ET - American Airlines Flight 11 (traveling from Boston to Los Angeles) strikes the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.
- 9:03 a.m. ET - United Airlines Flight 175 (traveling from Boston to Los Angeles) strikes the south tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.
- 9:37 a.m. ET - American Airlines Flight 77 (traveling from Dulles, Virginia, to Los Angeles) strikes the Pentagon Building in Washington.
- 9:59 a.m. ET - South tower of WTC collapses in approximately 10 seconds.
- 10:03 a.m. ET - United Airlines Flight 93 (traveling from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco) crashes in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
- 10:28 a.m. ET - North tower of WTC collapses. The time between the first attack and the collapse of both World Trade Center towers is 102 minutes.
December 13, 2001 - The US government releases a tape in which Osama bin Laden takes responsibility for the attacks.
December 18, 2001 - Congress approves a measure to allow the president to designate September 11 as "Patriot Day" on each anniversary of the attacks.
December 2001-June 15, 2004 - The original Victims Compensation Fund processes death and injury claims from families and relatives of September 11 victims. Families of those killed had until December 22, 2003, to apply for compensation. The fund reopens in 2011.
May 24, 2007 - The Chief Medical Examiner of New York City, Dr. Charles S. Hirsch, rules that the death of Felicia Dunn-Jones in 2002, from dust exposure, is directly linked to the 9/11 attack and therefore a homicide.
July 19, 2007 - The New York Medical Examiner's Office announces that the remains of three more people are positively identified. 1,133 victims, 41% of the total, remain unidentified.
January 2009 - The medical examiner's office rules that Leon Heyward, who died the previous year of lymphoma and lung disease, is a homicide victim because he was caught in the toxic dust cloud just after the towers collapsed.
January 2, 2011 - President Barack Obama signs James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, reopening and expanding the scope of the Victim Compensation Fund.
June 17, 2011 - The New York medical examiner rules that Jerry Borg's death on December 15, 2010, is a result of inhaling toxic substances from the dust cloud generated by the collapsing twin towers.
May 10, 2014 - The unidentified remains of those killed in the attacks are returned to the World Trade Center site where they will be kept in a repository under the jurisdiction of the Office of Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York.
August 7, 2017 - The New York City medical examiner's office announces that the remains of a man killed at the World Trade Center are positively identified due to more sophisticated DNA testing being available.