Volume 20, Number 37 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | January 26 - February 1, 2011
First-hand account from a first responder
Michael Moran, a 9/11 first-responder firefighter, is one of approximately 500 people who have recorded their 9/11 stories that will be used and distributed by the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
Moran is one of a dozen individuals who have participated in Broadcastr thus far.
Moran’s patience and professionalism was tested on 9/11. A member of Ladder Company 3 at the time, he remembers the desperate screams of a fellow firefighter on the radio as he struggled to free himself from a burning truck that day.
Moran and his crew were ordered to sit tight for several hours at the firehouse, according to a boss’s orders, before hurrying to the World Trade Center site to search for survivors. During the wait time, Moran didn’t know if his brother, Rescue Battalion Chief John Moran, was dead or alive.
He later found out that John had died while on duty.
What follows is Moran’s account from that day, in his own words, provided by Broadcastr:
“My name is Michael Moran. I’m a member of Ladder Company 3 [on East 13th Street].
The first tower falls, and I remember knowing at that point at least a good portion of my firehouse was probably wiped out, because I knew Ladder 3 was there.
So, I remember they turned the radio onto the Manhattan channel and there was a guy screaming into the radio that he was trapped in a fire truck and he was burning. And our guys couldn’t listen to it and walked away. And then somewhere in there it came over that if you were assigned to a Manhattan firehouse that’s where you were supposed to report to. Like they wanted Manhattan firemen to go to their houses.
By the time we got to my firehouse we had a city bus in front of quarters and I had time to get my gear on and we got on the bus. We’re just starting to pull away and the Chief came out and hit the glass and said ‘Hang on guys, come off.’ He goes, ‘We’re ordered to wait here for one hour.’ And like the hour comes and goes, alright we’re gonna go, and Chief’s like, ‘Listen we’re being told to wait, told to wait.’
And it was starting to really kind of get heated, like guys weren’t happy about staying. And we were ready to go, and he called everybody up into the office. And at this point I knew, like when I walked in and I saw my Lieutenant at the time, and I said, ‘How bad is it?’ and he goes, ‘It’s as bad as you can imagine, so far, but we don’t know who was off-duty who’s down there, but as far as we know 3 is gone.’
So that’s when I kind of started asking, ‘You didn’t hear anything from my brother, did you? What do you…’ No, no. And I’m asking the Chief, thinking maybe the chiefs would get… so they call everybody up into the office, and the Chief is saying, listen, you guys are getting mad, listen, you guys are on duty. You know, you guys are working. You know, you are ordered to stay here. You signed into the book, anybody that leaves here is gonna be [Absent Without Official Leave], is gonna get charges. He goes, I can’t have…I can’t have this.
So he looks around and he says, ‘Listen, I know there’s one guy here, Mike thinks his brother’s missing. I’ll turn around and let Mike sneak out of here.’ … I’m shocked that he said that. Everyone kind of looked at me, and he goes, ‘Mike, what do you want to do?’ And I don’t know why I said it or where it came from, but I just said, ‘Chief, my brother would want me to act like a professional. So if you say we’re ordered to stay here, then I’m gonna have to stay here’… Afterwards he told me that he appreciated that I said that because that shut everybody else up.”
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