9/11 Study Urges Closer Police-Fire
Mon Aug 19, 7:27 PM ET
By Atiya Hussain
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A long-awaited report on New York City
police and firefighters' response to the Sept. 11 attacks showed
serious mistakes were made, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg vowed on
Monday that the problems would be solved.
The Fire Department's most serious error was sending its
senior-most members to the World Trade Center, according to the
study by independent consultant McKinsey & Co. released on
Monday. The department lost most of its top command when the twin
towers collapsed after the Sept. 11 plane attacks.
The report said problems with the Fire department's portable
radios cut off communications between commanders and many
firefighters in the towers.
A virtual lack of communication between police and firefighters
has been widely criticized since the two hijacked jets slammed into
the 110-story towers, killing nearly 3,000 people, including 343
firefighters and 23 police officers.
On the positive side, McKinsey estimated more than 25,000 people
were safely evacuated in what it said constituted the largest rescue
operation in U.S. history.
The report -- commissioned by both the Police Department and the
Fire Department -- said the unprecedented attacks on U.S. soil had
drastically heightened the need for better preparation.
"This tragedy reshaped our expectations about future threats and
created a new urgency to create preparedness," it said.
Speaking just weeks before the one-year anniversary of the Sept.
11 attacks, Bloomberg said the city would make an all-out effort to
ensure New Yorkers' safety.
"Nothing will be compromised," he said. "This city will do
anything it can to see that the populace is protected as well as is
humanly possible," he said at a conference at which he presented the
results of the McKinsey report.
The report recommended the Fire Department improve its operations
center, in order to allow top commanders to control rescue responses
from a central location and limit the number of high-ranking
officers sent to an emergency site.
Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said an expanded center will
be operational next month.
The Fire Department intends to beef up its communications system
over the next five years, Scoppetta said.
"Key in this report is the recommendation that talks about
in-group coordination with the Police Department and other agencies
and the Fire Department. That coordinated response to catastrophic
emergencies is absolutely essential and is being addressed," he
The Police Department has instituted many of the changes
recommended in the McKinsey report, Bloomberg said, citing a
counter-terrorism bureau set up after Sept. 11 and improvements in
the department's intelligence division.
McKinsey, which specializes in reviewing management practices,
spent five months conducting the pro-bono study.