I was working in the office on a building design when the first plane hit. After the second plane hit I was paged and told to report to the Cache in Beverly for possible deployment to New York. I gathered my gear and headed for Beverly as fast as I could wondering what was ahead of us.
When I arrived in Beverly, I quickly got processed, assisted with loading of the equipment, and worked with the other Structures Specialists (Alan Fisher and Bernie Roullard) to learn what we could about the construction of the towers. I was told that I was riding with Billy Yee and we were quickly on the road to New York traveling as fast as we could with a State Police escort.
At that point I took time to call my wife and let her know what was happening. On the ride Bill and I talked about what would likely face us in New York. I thought about my wife and daughters and thought about the team. We had trained together and I deployed with some of them to the Worcester Fire. I had full confidence that they were highly trained professionals and could be counted on under any conditions. The fact that my brother Mark was going as a Search Team Manager was also reassuring. I resolved that under no circumstances would I let the team down.
As we approached New York City there was a large sign that said “New York City Closed” and a large mushroom shaped cloud of dust where the Trade Center had been. We drove to the Javit Center and were told to send out two Recon Teams immediately. We drove to Ground Zero with the wipers on to clear the heavy dust falling like snow. As we got close to Ground Zero we saw a jet engine on the side of the road and burned damaged rescue vehicles. It looked like a war zone. When we reported at Ground Zero we were told to go back and get some rest and be prepared to start first thing in the morning. No one got much rest. We all did what ever we could to get ready for the next day.
The next day I reported to Ground Zero with the rest of the day shift. The FDNY Deputy Chief in charge of our area told me I had twenty minutes to assess all of the structures on our half of the site to determine if they were stable or if he needed to evacuate rescuers. I came back in twenty minutes with the assessment. After that it was long days with one assignment after another supporting search teams, supporting rescue squads, performing structural assessments, and planning for surgical demolition untill we were relieved by the Sacramento Team.
There are several moments that stand out during those days. At one point we were in the subway and found a large wooden placard on a wall showing the layout of the Trade Center for each level and one of the Rescue Specialists suggested we take it with us for command to use for planning and tracking search areas. As we pried the placard off the wall, someone asked if we would get in trouble for removing it. At another point we were searching the roof of the partially collapsed Building 5 when we found a portion of the plane with debis from the baggage compartment. It made me think about the people on that plane. Another time I was told to work in another area with FDNY Rescue 3 where we were to work our way under the pile to get to the underground mall. As I started to leave Richie Parker, one of the Resue Specialists, stepped forward and volunteered to go with me to watch my back. I can always count on this team to watch my back.
Timothy J. Lynch, PE
Director of Special Projects
Environmental & Infrastructure
MATF-1 Structures Specialist