Sunday 2/26 NY Post Op-Ed
The following is a copy of UFA President Steve Cassidy’s Opinion Editorial from the 2/26/06 edition of the NY Post:
By STEVE CASSIDY
IN the coming months, work is to begin for a memorial to the victims of the 1993 and 2001 World Trade Center attacks. This vital project must move forward. The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. (LMDC) has acted in good faith to create a fitting memorial to all of the victims. The centerpiece is two voids on the footprints of where the towers stood, containing recessed pools and cascades of water. The names of those who died on 9/11 and on Feb. 26, 1993 will be inscribed at pool level.
The current memorial plan by the LMDC proposes to list the names of victims in random order. Survivors of 9/11 victims are represented by a number of groups with varying opinions. The Uniformed Firefighters Association represents more than 24,000 active and retired New York City firefighters. This is our position. Our members were a major component of the largest rescue operation in American history an estimated 25,000 people saved on 9/11. The day saw many acts of heroism by firefighters, police officers and civilians.
The FDNY is a paramilitary organization, where teamwork is necessary in all endeavors. No order is issued without the proper chain of command.
Our department lost 343 members that day. All responded, operated and died not inside a specific tower but rather as a result of the worst terrorist attack on American soil.
The UFA requests the LMDC to consider the following:
We would like all first responders to be listed in a third space between the two footprints. This space does not have to be exclusive to first responders; some other victims had no particular affiliation with either tower. But New York's firefighters should be memorialized as they functioned that day by division, battalion, unit and rank, with their badge number listed with their name.
This third space should be equal to the memorials in the footprints of Tower 1 and Tower 2, but not necessarily the same.
We also request a safety review of the memorial plan by the FDNY's Chief of Department, who is tasked with the responsibility of public safety. He must evaluate the proposed underground memorial. Any memorial space must be free and clear of important security and building-code problems. These include a safe evacuation plan of the facility.
Millions of visitors are expected to visit the memorial each year. An underground venue poses unique problems that need to be analyzed in advance it clearly limits safe visitorflow in and out of the facility. A careful review must examine the proper use of ramps, stairwells and enclosed fire-safe walls.
Another issue in need of intense scrutiny: Subterranean facilities require more exits than do facilities at street level both for normal visitor traffic and for use in an emergency.
If an adequate number of exits are not drawn into the plans, the final product will be a space that provides a recipe for overcrowding and chaos. Visitors to the Pearl Harbor Memorial routinely endure two-hour waits and far greater numbers are anticipated at the World Trade Center site.
The LMDC and the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation have shouldered an enormous task and we commend them for their efforts. But, in a post-9/11 world, and with this memorial of such importance to our nation, these issues are of paramount concern.
Steve Cassidy is the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York.
Stephen J. Cassidy
Joseph A. Miccio