In observance of Patriot Day, the Hotes Foundation would like to share it’s story of how the FDNY at Ground Zero impacted our foundation.
Transcript of Hotes Foundation 9/11 2017 Memorial Video
FDNY DISPATCHERS: “World Trade Center tower number one is on fire … The whole outside of the building there was just a huge explosion
…another plane just hit the second tower
…Urgent Urgent. Send every available ambulance, everything you got to the world trade center, now
…Attention all units, by order of the city-wide call commander, all off-duty fire fighters and all off-duty officers are hereby recalled.”
WALTER BLUM: “My name is Walter Blum, I was a member of the New York City Fire Department. At the time, I had 19 years on the job, and I was assigned to ladder company 174 in Brooklyn. The FDNY went into what they call a recall. I dropped everything right where I was standing and got into the car, and started heading into the firehouse.”
RICHARD HOTES: “I was in my bedroom and I was just about to go to the office. My son Travis came knocking on the door, he’s like ‘dad there’s been some kind of an attack’ and I was like I had no idea what he was talking about. We turned on the TV and he was like ‘dad, thousands of people just died’”
(FDNY radio chatter)
POLICE OFFICER: “We need volunteers for first aid!”
WALTER BLUM: “Anybody and everybody, first time down there could not get over the devastation. The volume of smoke that was still pouring out of the area, the dust, and there was tremendous amount of paperwork floating in the air. There were fires burning all over the place, it was, it was a war zone.
The fire department were having a very difficult time getting water on some of these fires, but at the time we really felt that the more important thing to do was search and rescue. We were going down there, we were looking for anyone who possibly survived this.”
RICHARD HOTES: “When we started getting the reports about all the people that had died, and the people who were in the pile and that there could be people alive in that pile, my son immediately started sobbing, and then I started crying and I realized that this was a horrible, horrible thing.
WALTER BLUM: “we really that first week, still weren’t 100% sure how many firemen had perished. One thing we pride ourselves on as does the military is recovering a lost member. The Scott Paks that we were have a device that’s designed for a lost member in a typical fire, and it gives out this large squelch. And, that’s all we were hearing.”
WALTER [continues]: “We knew they were in there. We were trying to track them, but the debris field was so intense, we couldn’t get to them. The frustrating part was, where are these guys. We know they’re in there. They’re in there somewhere. We were running 24 hours. We were in all kinds of weather. It still was fairly mild in New York, but the nights were getting cold. There were massive storms running through, and once you’re wet, you’re down 60 degrees, so…”
RICHARD HOTES: “At this particular time, the most vulnerable, were the firemen and police officers who were on this site, and the reason was there were still a lot of people that were gonna be pulled out of that pile. I was thinking, we need to see if we can help. I went to the office and I asked the employees to call people in New York to see how we can help.”
WALTER BLUM: “At the time, I was a director for a foundation within the fire department. It’s called Fire Family Transport Foundation. That office was getting this influx of phone calls.”
RICHARD HOTES: “We got a hold of them, and, you know, I just said what can we do? And I told them what we do. I thought maybe they could use our product. It’s a fabric structure that operates more like a permanent house does, and we’d had people living in them in some of the most harsh environments in the world.”
WALTER BLUM: “I’m explaining to somebody, Alaska Structures calls me, besides the hundreds of other phone calls. And, somebody overheard me say it, and said ‘this is absolutely what you guys need down there.’”
RICHARD HOTES: “Somehow or another, I ended up on the phone with like emergency management, which is part of the governor’s office in New York.”
WALTER BLUM: “There was a lot of controversy of stuff that was coming in, so emergency management for the city was getting most of these phone calls, and I think along with everybody else who wanted to donate time, and surplus supply, anything else that they could offer, were all being told no.”
RICHARD HOTES: “I’m on the phone to these guys, and I’m like, ‘well they say they need this stuff,’ they’re like ‘nope, they don’t need anything.’ And I’m like, ‘Well I just talked to the fire guys’ and they’re like … and I’ve already shipped this stuff right, it’s on its way, but I don’t tell them that – So then I call the fire guys back, and I’m like ‘They told me they’ll arrest me if I come.’ And they say ‘You know what, we’re gonna pick you up at the airport, we’re gonna get you a badge, we’re gonna take you to a hotel, and we’re gonna escort you to the pile and back every day.”
WALTER BLUM: “So, I was getting, ‘Who gave you authority to do what you’re doing?’ And nobody seemed to be accountable for anything anyway, so my thought was, ‘What are you going to do? Fire me?’”
RICHARD HOTES: “I knew I would go, but because there had been employees involved in the logistics involved in the logistics, in reaching the right people, they were already invested in this whole thing. I really needed to bring ‘em. It’s hard to describe, really, in words what if felt when you got there. Smoke was billowing out of the pile everywhere. And yet, they were still searching for bodies in the pile. We wanted to get the shelters up as fast as we could for them. We could tell by that time how desperately they needed them. We just headed for the shelters and started putting them up.”
WALTER BLUM: “The structures when they did show up were the first cover that we actually really had. It was a gift from heaven when we got one up. There was water, a place where you could just clean up, take your bunker gear off. There were cots set up in them where you could lay down if you needed to.”
RICHARD HOTES: “The value as we watched them use ‘em went up and up. We got more and more excited that we came and that we did this because we didn’t really understand the total value when we went.”
WALTER BLUM: “All four corners of Ground Zero had one of the structures put up. The staff chiefs realized how critical it was to be able to have these things where you get the guys in there because a lot of guys had the same idea of, ‘I’m not leaving; I have friends in there that are still missing and I’m not leaving until we find …my friend.’
I can honestly say the FDNY, everybody who wanted to donate, whether it was there time or whatever specialty they had, they were only in it out of the goodness of their heart. When I look back, Richard’s crew most certainly proved that they were here and all that they wanted to do was help.
I could not believe really the way this man lives his life. He’s just a true spirited person. He says he’s gonna do something, and he does it. If I was to take a leap back in time, if we were able to get in these things, I know that they would to shake Richard’s hand, just to say thank you for the fact that they were actually down there.”
(Richard and Walter meet in office)
RICHARD HOTES: “Hey pal, oh my gosh it’s so good to see you!
WALTER BLUM: “Hello! You too”
RICHARD HOTES: “How are ya? My gosh, did you grow younger? What happened?”
WALTER BLUM: “I feel like you”
RICHARD HOTES: “Look at you!”
(Office scene ends)
RICHARD HOTES: “The 9/11 experience where I took a team for the first time, I realized how much it meant to those 5 people to have gone on that mission. And I knew that this was something that would last a lifetime for them. Just the feeling that we had done this together, we had gotten to the point where we could go help together, I mean I couldn’t have done that by myself.
I was inspired by the team, and Wally was part of that team. You’re almost reborn when you go on something like this, you come out of it a new person, and part of the new person I became was one that wanted to do this with other people. It really is important to me to thank you Wally for all the work you did and all the risk I know you took to get us there.
Doing this mission to Ground Zero after 9/11, it birthed a whole new thing for me, and for a whole lot of other people who have gone with me since then because since that time we’ve done 90 missions and literally hundreds of people at varying times have gone with us to countries all over the world. As far as the team efforts to go help people in horrible disasters around the world, it all started on 9/11.”
(Text on Screen): Never Forget.
Dedicated to all those who have lost their lives & the heroes of 9/11.
With help from the Hotes Foundation, residents in Haiti prepare for the effects of Hurricane Irma.