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Post-9/11 report recommends police, fire response changes
NEW YORK (AP) — Police and fire officials pledged Monday to improve command procedures and communications as they released two reports examining emergency response in the wake of the World Trade Center attack.

The two reports were prepared by high-ranking department officials and management consultant McKinsey & Co., who together conducted dozens of interviews and reviewed hundreds of pages of computer records and hours of radio transmissions.

"There is no doubt in my mind that we are doing today what the heroes of 9-11 would have wanted us to do," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "It is in that spirit that we present these reports."

Both Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta promised to improve they way they deploy officers and firefighters in disasters.

"We've revised our mobilization procedures, controlling the number of personnel who respond at any one time to an event," said Kelly.

Dozens of firefighters directed to go to staging points on streets surrounding the twin towers on Sept. 11 instead went straight into the buildings, officials have said. Kelly said too many police officers also went directly to the scene.

A total of 343 firefighters and 23 NYPD officers died that day.

City officials also discussed improving the fire department's radio system and linking it to police communications.

The roughly 100-page fire department document also recommends that the department bolster its single hazardous materials unit with new staff and equipment, allowing the FDNY to better respond to potential chemical, biological or radiological attacks.

It says the FDNY and neighboring fire departments should develop mutual-aid procedures for assisting each other during massive emergencies.

Similarly, procedures should be developed under which the fire department, police department and agencies as diverse as the CIA and Coast Guard could better coordinate the dissemination of information.

The FDNY document praises what it calls firefighters' historic evacuation of an estimated 25,000 people from the twin towers. It emphasizes that it would have been nearly impossible for any fire department to prepare for an event of such unprecedented scale.

"The goal was to learn from the events of 9-11 so that the city can learn from the experiences of that day — from what worked and what didn't so that we can be better prepared for any future large-scale emergency," Bloomberg said.

Beyond the sheer loss of life, the fire department was devastated by the deaths of some of its most senior commanders, including Chief of Department Peter Ganci. A number of commanders were in the lobbies of the towers and others were stationed elsewhere in the trade center complex.

One of the FDNY's most senior officers should oversee large-scale emergencies from the department's Brooklyn operations center instead of the scene itself, the report said.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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