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Monday, 19 August, 2002, 20:51 GMT 21:51 UK
Officials vow reform after WTC chaos
Firefighters working at the site of the Twin Towers
The report did praise the emergency services for their work
New York's police and fire departments have pledged to reform their emergency response procedures following an official report criticising their handling of last year's terrorist attacks.

The report - by management consultants McKinsey with the mandate of the New York authorities - said poor command, co-operation and communications within the two departments created a host of problems in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

We are taking steps to help us prepare for events which we and the public once thought unimaginable

Ray Kelly
Police Commissioner
It said there were too many officers at the scene, insufficient liaison between the departments, and a failure to establish a clear line of command.

Over 400 members of the emergency services were killed when the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed after two hijacked planes ploughed into them on 11 September.

The BBC's Jane Standley in New York says the report has come as a shock to many New Yorkers, who have elevated the city's firefighters to near sainthood since the devastating attacks took place.

Too many

The report does praise the emergency services for the massive urban evacuation they carried out - the largest in modern history.

A flag in Manhattan saluting New York's firefighters
The firemen have been hailed as heroes by New York
But both departments had too many staff at the scene, some of whom had come of their own accord, and discipline was a problem, said the report.

Many were insufficiently prepared for a terrorist attack and were not wearing adequate protection.

Communication between departments and individuals were meanwhile exacerbated by an inadequate radio system.

The report cites as an example the fact that the fire department could not receive information from police helicopters which were hovering above the twin towers and which had valuable information about the state of the buildings.

Firefighters unions' had already blamed the radio system for the deaths of more than 100 of their colleagues who were on the upper floors of the first tower when it fell.

They were unable to hear one staff chief ordering everyone down almost 30 minutes before the tower collapsed.

Improving relations

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said a raft of measures had been approved to boost co-operation between the two departments in the light of the report's recommendations

These include initiatives to improve internal communications, as well as a drive to better relations between the two departments.

Emergency planning and increased training for both police and firefighters are also on the agenda.

Inter-agency competition may be unavoidable, and even healthy," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference.

"But it must never impair our ability to respond to emergencies."

At the same time, the report said its findings should in no way detract from the heroic actions of police and firefighters.

"We owe it to those we lost and to those they left behind to learn what we can from this tragedy," Mr Bloomberg said.

"There is no doubt in my mind that we are doing today what the heroes of 9/11 would have wanted us to do."

The BBC's Jane Standley
"The report identifies serious failings"
Yvette Clark, Public Safety & Fire Committee
"There is a lot to be learned from that day"
See also:

03 Aug 02 | Americas
24 Sep 01 | Americas
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