Statement from Michael Hurley, World Trade Center Fire Safety Director
I was going to take off from work that day because it was my son's first day of kindergarten. As it turned out, I went to work...

As the World Trade Center Fire Safety Director, my unit was responsible for fire, life safety and emergency programs at the World Trade Center complex, including the coordination of activities with the New York City Fire Department (FDNY).

On September 11, 2001, I was at a meeting in the Operations Control Center (OCC) on the B1 [the first of six] basement levels in tower two when the first attack occurred. The OCC shook and the lights flickered off and on, and almost instantly the two-way radio frequencies were full of WTC personnel reporting some sort of explosion. I headed for the lobby of tower two and when I arrived, noticed small fires, debris, pieces of steel, etc. in the streets along the south side of the complex. It was obvious that the debris had fallen from somewhere, so I went outside to get a better look. While looking up at the south side of tower two [the south tower], it was not possible to see where the debris had come from as my view of tower one was blocked by tower two. Within seconds, the first due FDNY engine company arrived and together we continued to scan the building looking for the source. Not finding it, we ran to the corner of Liberty and West Streets and as we turned north towards tower one, we saw a tremendous amount of fire raging through the windows on approximately ten floors near the top of the building. I didn't know that an aircraft had hit the tower at that point, but knew that whatever had occurred was purposefully done as there was nothing in the building that could have accidentally caused such an explosion and volume of fire [there was no natural gas or other types of explosives in the towers].

The engine company members and I began running towards tower one, and along the way encountered several individuals lying in the street who had been severely injured by burning jet fuel and falling debris, which continued to drop around us. We stopped to render aid and were there after relieved by the first arriving medical units. We continued to tower one and entered, going to the building's fire command center [located in the lobby]. The situation was quickly assessed and various emergency procedures were initiated; the details of which were relayed to the FDNY chief officers as they arrived on scene. My staff and I worked side-by-side with Fire Department chiefs and commanders as had been done hundreds of times over the years -- on a much smaller scale, of course. Information on things such as evacuations, stairway configurations, firefighting resources and other necessary details were provided. As the incident progressed and the nature of the situation became evident, it was recommended that FDNY consent to the complete evacuation of all occupants in all World Trade Center buildings. They agreed, and thereafter a full evacuation of the entire complex was ordered -- prior to the second attack.

Following the attack on Two WTC, the situation became substantially more difficult, as the emergency response resources were divided to operate on two fronts. I remained with the FDNY incident commander in the north tower. During the course of events, a report surfaced regarding a third aircraft headed for New York City, and the possibility of additional attacks. Based on this information, FDNY directed all personnel to vacate. I remained with several chiefs and continued to work with them in the lobby. At some point, a decision was made to relocate the command post and I was requested to seek out an appropriate location across the street from the World Trade Center, and establish a new post. I did, and was responding back to the lobby to lead the group to the new location, when I got caught in the collapse of tower two. I managed to escape and then reported to a secondary command post north of the World Trade Center where I remained until that post was abandoned after the collapse of tower one. I continued to work with FDNY personnel before eventually leaving New York City. I managed to locate a working telephone to call my family, and then make my way home [to New Jersey]. After a brief reunion, I -- and another Port Authority employee from my town -- headed back out to join the rescue efforts. For the next several weeks, we worked with FDNY and FEMA officials providing site information required for the rescue and recovery efforts.

As you can imagine, it was a most memorable day. Perhaps the most visually striking memory I have is the number of people I saw jump from the towers. I can't imagine how bad the fire conditions must have been on the upper floors for people to make a decision that it was better to jump. Also, when I made my way back to the site after the collapse, it was hard to believe that a pile of debris 50 or 60 feet in height was actually two 110 story towers...