WCBS 880 9/11 Series: Former FDNY Commissioner Tom Von Essen Recalls 9/11

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Ten years later, Tom Von Essen retains a crystal clear image of a moment on 9/11/01.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb On The Story

The then New York City fire commissioner stood in the lobby of the burning One World Trade Center.

“You could see in the faces of the young guys especially, I thought, excitement and I looked at the faces of some of the older guys and I thought a little more trepidation, you know, more wisdom and more understanding of what they were getting themselves into,” he said.

RELATED: WCBS 880 Presents 9/11 – Ten Years Later

Von Essen says the big fire bosses were concerned and wanted the firefighters out.

“The chiefs had already made their decision early. They wanted that north tower evacuated not very long at all into the operation. But, you know, there were units that heard maydays of other units — they knew the fire officers, they knew the men – the people who were trapped, the firefighters that needed help. And some of that is where you find that really extreme bravery to just go on, continue going forward into harm’s way,” Von Essen told WCBS 880 reporter Rich Lamb.

But Von Essen said nobody knew that 102 minutes after the first building was hit, both towers would collapse into rubble.

More from Rich Lamb
  • Wake up Americans

    “You don’t have to be an engineer or an architect, to see what happened to those buildings”…..

    9 11 Truth

  • jimmy

    Is that Kerik in the backround? I guess he will be spending the 10 year anniversary behind bars.

  • michaelfury

    “nobody knew that 102 minutes after the first building was hit, both towers would collapse into rubble”

    Giuliani knew. Who told him?

    “I .. I went down to the scene and we set up a headquarters at 75 Barkley Street, which was right there with the Police Commissioner, the Fire Commissioner, the Head of Emergency Management, and we were operating out of there when we were told that the World Trade Center was gonna’ to collapse. And it did collapse before we could actually get out of the building, so we were trapped in the building for 10, 15 minutes, and finally found an exit, got out, walked north, and took a lot of people with us.”

    – Rudy Giuliani, ABC News interview


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