File No. 9110458
WORLD TRADE CENTER TASK FORCE INTERVIEW
FIREFIGHTER TIMOTHY BROWN
Interview Date: January 15, 2002
Transcribed by Laurie A. Collins
CHIEF LAKIOTES: Today's date is January 15th, 2002. The time is
approximately 9:20. My name is Battalion Chief Art Lakiotes, safety
command, New York
City Fire Department, conducting an interview with --
MR. BROWN: Tim Brown, OEM, detailed out of Rescue 3.
CHIEF LAKIOTES: Pertaining to the events of September 11th, 2001.
Q. Tim, if you would, just take me to when
you first heard about it and then how did the
day's events unfold for you.
A. OEM's offices are in Seven World Trade
Center, so we were there when the first plane
hit. I was on the third floor. I was eating
breakfast. The electricity went out in the
building for about three to four seconds, and
then it rerouted and came back on. I knew
something major had happened, although I did not
feel any vibration or hear any crash from where I
The folks that were in the cafeteria
where I was that had a window seat all got up
pretty much at once and started running. I asked
them what happened. They said a plane just
crashed into the tower, which was the north
So I ran down the escalator to the
lobby level, where I saw my direct boss, Calvin
Dreydon, who is the deputy director for
operations for OEM, going down to the street
level. He told me to go up to our office on 23
and make sure that we were getting our EOC up and
running and that our communications was being
properly supervised. We call it our watch
So I went up in the elevator to 23.
First I went to my desk, got my portable radio.
It's a police radio, fire radio and OEM radio. I
went into our watch command. The supervisor,
Mike Lee, was there running operations, so we
were fine there. I went into the EOC. We had
the supervisor, Mike Berkowitz, there running
that, so I was comfortable that we were doing our
went down to the street level. There
was a lot of debris falling in the street, which
is Vesey Street. My car was parked on Vesey
between the federal office building, the post
office, and Five World Trade. I went to my car
to take off my tie and my shoes, put on boots,
helmet, and a Mayor's office jacket.
went back to the corner of West and
Vesey, where the police department was calling
mobilization. Our car two, John Odermatt was
there. I told him that I was going to go through
Six World Trade into One World Tower to the fire
walked in the walkway between five
and six to get a three-sided look at One World Trade Center
to see what it looked like. The
whole plaza area was burning debris, plane parts
and bodies; a lot of fire in the plaza area.
communicated with a Port Authority
cop who yelled at me and told me to get out of
there, it was too dangerous. Of course he was
standing there. I don't know who that guy was. I
went into the lobby of One World Trade Center.
A lot of people were
self-evacuating very orderly, quickly. People
were helping each other, and they were streaming
out as quickly as they could.
The one thing that was limiting their
escape the most was probably the size of the
escalators. They were bottling up at the top of
the escalators, trying to get on the escalators,
trying to get down. But it was orderly.
believe you have to go down a level
to get to the fire command post. So I went down
that level. I went past the core of the building
where the stairwells were. There were a lot of
firemen there. By "a lot," I would probably say
30 or so firemen there.
The people I remember seeing were Terry
Hatton and Chris Blackwell.
Terry Hatton from
Rescue 1 and Chris Blackwell from Rescue 3. I
gave them both hugs. Terry said to me, "I love
you, brother. It might be the last time I seeyou." Then he went in the stairwell.
Blackwell looked at me and said, "This isn't
good, Tim." That was the last I saw him also.
Those are the two guys that I remember seeing,
although there were a lot more people there.
From there I went to the fire command
station where my boss was, Calvin. I believe at
this point Rich Schirer was there. I think I saw
the Commissioner there. I think we had a tape,
kind of, of the people that were there.
Q. Yes, I think so.
A. Yeah, I think the tape came in after I
Q. Yeah, it could be.
A. I was probably there for three minutes
at most. We did right away -- one of the
thoughts that crossed my mind almost immediately
was to get air cover from the military. We
weren't sure this was a terrorist attack, but we
knew there was a good possibility that it was.
So we had sent that message pretty
quickly back to our communications folks to try
and get in touch with the White House and with
FAA and try and get some help.
There were a lot of people streaming in
and out, a lot of firemen coming in.
The second plane hit. Again I did not
feel that. We did not know that happened until a
fireman came into the lobby and told us that
another plane had hit number two, the south
tower. Calvin directed me to go to the command
post in the south tower to help the Fire
Department with their operation there and to let
him know everything that was going on.
I'm not exactly sure how I got there.
remember going out through a broken window and
running I believe south along the West Street
side of the complex as fast as I could so I
wouldn't get hit by anything.
remember running across a parking
lot. It was across from the hotel, which would
have been the southeast corner of Liberty and
West. There's a parking lot there. It was near
the pedestrian walkway and all that.
Q. There's a large parking lot.
Q. The building that was up there, would
it be a Church?
A. It was gone from there.
Q. Yes, obliterated.
A. Okay, okay.
Q. It was just a very huge parking lot,
A. Right, okay. I was over there.
Q. I was a lieutenant in 10 and 10.
That's why I remember a lot.
A. Okay. So this is your neighborhood,
So I remember running across a lot of
debris. I didn't have on fire gear, so I remember trying to avoid the fire as much as I
could. I ran into the doors of the Two World
Trade on the Liberty Street side. I
saw Chief Burns inside there. He was
the first fire personnel that I saw in the lobby. I
asked him if there was anything I could do to
help. He was like, well, it's just like -- there
was nothing anybody could do except try and get
So we tried to encourage -- I remember
seeing a six-person team from ESU in that lobby. I
directed them to wait. I directed them to wait
and not to go upstairs until they reported in to
Chief Burns so we had some accountability of who
they were and where they were going to go. They
finally did communicate with Chief Burns, and
then they went upstairs.
Again, an orderly evacuation of two. A
lot of people were leaving.
We finally set up -- prior to this I
believe it was the west side of the core of the
building there were elevators. Someone had come
to me and said that there were people trapped in
one of those elevators.
So I ran around the corner, and the
hoist way doors were open, but the elevator car
was only showing about two feet at the top of the
door. You could see all the legs of the people
that were in the elevator. I would guess there
were about eight people in the elevator.
The elevator pit was on fire with the
jet fuel. People were screaming in the elevator.
They were getting smoked and cooked. There
weren't a lot of firemen there at the time. I
grabbed some of the Port Authority employees and
asked them where the fire extinguishers were and
told them to get as many fire extinguishers as
they could so we could try and fight this fire.
As they were doing that, firemen started showing
up, and I started asking them to get big cans,let's try to put this fire out.
turned around, and I came
face-to-face with Mike Lynch from Ladder 4, who I
knew. I worked for Ladder 4 for a year. He was
one of the young guys there then. I knew Mike
was a very competent guy. I said to Mike,
"You've got this?" He said, "I'll take care of
it." I left the elevator knowing that he would
take care of it.
went to the command board -- which
before this I went to the phones which were in
the southeast corner of Two World Trade in the
lobby area, trying to call the White House and
trying to call Albany and trying to make sure
that we had some kind of air cover and some kind
of help in the air.
could not get through to Washington
because of the things that were going on. I did
get in touch with S.E.M.O. up in Albany, and they
said they were already ahead of us and they had
already spoken with people, trying to get us air
So being comfortable with that, I went
to the command board which they were setting up
right next to the doors on the Liberty Street
side, the south side of Two World Trade, inside
the lobby. At that command board were Chief
Burns, Chief Jack Fanning, and I remember seeing
Carl Asaro also there. So at this point I just
stayed in the background, because things were
Someone, a fireman, came in through the
lobby, through the doors on the Liberty Street
side, and told us that there was already a
fireman who was killed on the Liberty Street side
by a jumper, a guy from 216. Although we knew it
was serious, we knew that disaster was beginning
Now the people coming down the
stairwells were not so healthy anymore. A lot of
people coming down were burned very badly. A lot
of people were broken and bloody. There were
people helping people, like carrying people.
We had been directing people to go to
Seven World Trade where we had set up a triage
area, and I was directing them to go underground
as much as they could to get to seven. But a lot
of these people that were coming down now were
not ambulatory and overwhelmed. So the lobby
started filling up with badly injured people,
people that were dying.
So watching all the confusion, I always
try to think of what I can do to help. I said,
well, we have no EMS in the lobby, and we're
going to have to move these people or everybody
is going to be stuck in the tower and we're not
going to be able to evacuate.
told Chief Burns that I was going to
go find EMS and bring them back into the lobby,
which is something that saved my life. I went
out to the Liberty Street side. I saw Mike Lynch
again at Ladder 4's rig, which was pulled right
up next to the building, taking the Hearst tool
off the rig.
He yelled to me to help him get it off
the rig and carry it in, so I started running
toward him. Before I could get to him, another
fireman had come up and started helping him. So I
said, "Are you all set?" He said, "I got it."
ran to continue my mission to find
EMS. I found EMS staging underneath the
pedestrian bridge at West and Liberty. I saw my
friend Charlie Wells. I got under the pedestrian
bridge where they were standing so we were
protected, and I said to Charlie, "We need you
guys in the lobby of number two." He looked at
me like I was crazy. He said, "All right. Just
give me a minute to get helmets on people, and
we're going to go in with you."
So I waited I'm thinking around two
minutes there. He got two paramedics, himself
and me. I said, "Okay. Follow me." We ran to
the south side of the hotel to stay close to the
building, trying not to get hit. We ran along
the edge of the hotel.
When we ran by the southwest corner of
the hotel, I noticed that the doors to the Tall
Ships restaurant were wide open and there were
people inside there.
As we ran towards the rear, which is
the three side of the hotel, and rounded the
corner to go into Two World Trade Center, in the
doors, we heard the roar above us. I know I
never looked up. I don't think anybody ever
looked up. But there was no question what it
was. It was a very tremendous sound, which I
think we hear on the tapes.
So we just turned and ran for our
lives. Now it was the flight/fright thing,
because everybody knew we were all going to die.
We ran back along -- I knew right from the start
that I was going to go into the lobby of the
hotel to try and get protected.
As I ran by the medics, I yelled at
them to follow me. Charlie and one of the
medics, who I don't know their names, followed me
into the lobby of the hotel. The other guy ran
back toward the pedestrian bridge. Charlie tells
me everybody lived of that group.
We ran into the lobby. No sooner did
we get into the lobby of the hotel, which was
crystal-clear when we went in, then it went
completely black in an instant with the dust.
The roar was just getting louder. The
dust started blowing in our faces. I'm guessing
around 30, 35 miles an hour the wind was.
Everything started blowing toward us that wasn't
nailed down. You could not any longer run into
the wind because you were getting pummeled by
stuff. You couldn't see anybody to communicate.
You couldn't hear anything. It was becoming ourgrave.
So I turned around and started running
back toward the door where I came in.
Intellectually I knew we couldn't go outside,
because we would get killed by the steel. So now I
knew we were trapped. I wound up crawling onthe floor as the wind got stronger and the roar
found what I'm guessing was a 12 by
12 boxed out steel column, which I tried to
become one with. I got as close as I could to
it. I hugged it, hoping that anything would tent
over me. I just held onto it.
had a helmet on. The helmet got
blown off by the wind. I'm no meteorologist, but
I'm guessing that the wind at its height was
around 70, 75 miles an hour. I had to hold onto
that steel column with all my might so I wouldn't
get blown out into the street, not realizing it
was probably all over, thinking about my brother
and things like that. I
thought it lasted four minutes.
Somebody told me it lasted a much shorter time
than that. But it stopped. You could hear an
eerie silence at first, and then you could start
to hear people starting to move around a little
bit, people that were still alive. I was amazed
that I was alive.
You still couldn't see anything. I
went back toward what I thought was the door
where we had come in from Liberty Street. As I
got over there, I ran into a truck with its
lights on. By the front of the truck, I thought
it was a box truck. I did not recognize it as a
fire truck, although it could have been. I
thought it was a bomb. The headlights were still
on, very eerie.
turned around and ran the other way,
thinking that it was a bomb, telling everybody to
run the other way. We ran into a steel rolldown
gate that was down. Someone had said we can get
out this way, so now there were more people
So all the men -- I couldn't tell you
if they were civilians or firemen. It seemed to
me there were a lot of civilians here. Our
fingers were going underneath the door. We tried
to lift it up. After we got it up two inches,
you could see all the fingers coming the other way, because there were people trapped on the
other side of it.
We got that door up about two feet, and
there was a girl behind us that said we found a
way out. So everybody formed a chain. There was a
fireman that knew he was already outside in the
rubble, but he was okay. He was screaming at us
to come toward him, "Come this way. Come this
So we went that way, which was the West
Street side of what was left of the building. We
went across. Then I just wanted to get away from
the building, so I ran across all the rubble over
to the American Express building, where I went in
the lobby there. I just wanted to get to the
river and to be able to get a view of what was
went into that lobby, and all the
doors were locked. I couldn't get through those
doors. I tried to break the glass doors, and I
couldn't break them. I
had the police and fire radios in my
back pocket, so I did not hear what was going on,
really, on them. I had the OEM radio in my hand,
and my boss was calling for help. He was
trapped. That's what brought me back to reality.
went back out to West Street, ran
north on the West Street side over the rubble,
trying to find him, thinking that he was dying,
trapped in the rubble. I went by Chief Feehan,
who I know for a long time, shook his hand. He
said "Be careful, be careful," to me. I kept
running. I remember him being on West, north of
the American Express building. He was alone atthe time.
went up to Vesey Street and made a
left going west on Vesey Street toward the river.I
found Calvin at four World Financial Center. A
fireman had already rescued him and pulled him
out. He was with EMS.
Then my other boss, car 2, John
Odermatt, grabbed me and said, "Timmy, we have to
go and try to reestablish city government.
You've got to come with me. Calvin is okay." So
we left Calvin in the hands of EMS and went back
north on West Street.
At some point -- I'm not sure where -- I
either went in Barclay Street or Murray Street
over to West Broadway and trying to find our
command bus, which was a little bit further north
on West Broadway. I started walking north on
West Broadway when number One World Trade Center
started to collapse.
looked back over my shoulder.
Everybody started running. That collapsed. I
knew that my friends were in there. I just ran
north on West Broadway. I used a telephone, a
land line, because I couldn't use the cell phone
to call my brother to tell him I was still alive.
That phone call was made an hour and 42 minutes
after the first plane hit. So I know that's the
Then we wound up just up at 24 and 5
with the Mayor and other folks up there. I saw
Terry's wife up there. I had an unhappy
encounter with her.
Basically that's it. We just tried to
regroup after that. That's everything I
Q. A lot of guys that were in the --
Q. -- restaurant, 131?
A. 131 Truck?
Q. Yeah. I was wondering if you ran into
A. They were in the lobby and they were --
Q. I guess the gate was between the
restaurant and the hotel lobby. When they closed
the restaurant, they use the gate to segregate
the restaurant from the rest of the building.
A. Oh, okay.
Q. They said that they got that up. They
went out to Liberty Street on the corner.
A. Oh, okay. So they were coming toward
me as I was coming toward them.
A. You couldn't tell who was who or
anything like that.
Did any of those guys die? Mostly
everybody that was in that lobby area --
Q. In that general area of the lobby, the
guys got out.
A. Further north than the lobby.
Q. North and south. It seemed like you
were in the middle.
A. I think I was in the south end of the
lobby. That's that part that's still standing.
Q. I'm saying, if you were on the south
side or the north side, it looks like you --
Q. -- survived.
A. In the middle where two came down, it
sliced it in the middle. You have guys that were
in the north part that lived also?
Q. Yeah, Tommy Gallagher was in the north part, and Brian, when the first collapsed.
A. Right. Then the second one. I heard
there's videotape, actually, of number two -- of
the hotel in between the collapses. So you have
two parts of the hotel standing, and the middle
A. You can see it?
Q. Photos, not video.
A. Okay. Photos.
here see the photo of the Marriott Hotel between the collapse of
Tower 2 and Tower 1)
CHIEF LAKIOTES: That concludes the
interview. It is approximately 9:45.