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Saturday, 3 November, 2001, 03:28 GMT
Giuliani slams firefighters' protests
Firefighters said city officials want to save money
New York major Rudolph Giuliani has berated the city's firefighters for staging an angry demonstration at the ruins of the World Trade Center in protest at plans to cut the recovery workforce.

Scuffles broke out between the hundreds of firefighters demonstrating and police after protesters were prevented from entering a sealed-off area of the site. A number of people were arrested.

"The kind of conduct displayed today is unacceptable," said Mr Giuliani.

"You can't hit police officers, you can't disobey the law and you have to have enough professionalism and dignity about yourself to not conduct yourself in that way."

Rudolph Giuliani
Mr Giuliani said the site is becoming more dangerous

Firefighters say unless they continue with the search for bodies, many human remains will end up discarded along with tons of rubble being removed by construction workers.

Earlier in the week, Mr Giuliani announced plans to scale back the number of firefighters involved in the search for bodies.

Mr Giuliani said he wanted to reduce the recovery team from about 100 to 25 because the site was becoming increasingly dangerous.

"Here's what we have to make sure doesn't happen - that we don't have any more fatalities there, that we don't lose any more lives there," he said on Friday.

We were promised by the mayor and the fire commissioner that we wouldn't give this up until we got everyone out

Michael Carter,
UFA vice president

Firefighters say the mayor's decision has more to do with money, with millions of dollars being paid in overtime to their men who have been working round-the-clock since the twin towers were destroyed on 11 September.

The Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA), which led the protest, said Mr Giuliani was "in essence eliminating the department's dignified attempt to recover emergency workers who lost their lives".

Many protesters held placards and chanted: "Do the right thing", as union leaders using loud hailers criticised New York City officials.

A senior police officer appealed for the firefighters to calm down, telling them: "This is not a confrontation."

Riot police

It was a rare display of disunity between the emergency services, who have worked hand-in-hand since the attacks, becoming New York's unofficial heroes.

Firefighters remove human remains
Many bodies remain buried under the rubble

Demonstrators marched through the city to deliver a letter of protest to Mr Giuliani's office, where they were met by police in riot gear and on horseback.

About 5,000 people perished in the attacks on the World Trade Center, including more than 340 firefighters.

The UFA estimates more than 265 of their colleagues remain buried under tons of debris.

Firefighter Bob McGuire, whose nephew was among those lost in the wreckage, said some bodies had been removed with the rubble.

"I don't want him to end up in a dumpster," he said.

The BBC's Steve Kingstone
reports on twelve firefighters who were arrested in New York after clashing with police
See also:

02 Nov 01 | Americas
Face-off at Ground Zero
31 Oct 01 | Health
NY firefighters report illness
26 Oct 01 | Americas
Trade Center death toll 'lower'
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