A dispute has developed between the FDNY Fire Family Transport Foundation and the DC Fire & EMS Department over the Iron and Steel program’s efforts to bring pieces of the Twin Towers to the Nation’s Capital on August 28. The reporting above and below is by Delia Goncalves at 9NEWS NOW in Washington (my former employer). In addition DC Fire & EMS Department Chief Spokesperson Pete Piringer has provided a written response (at the bottom of report).
“I know exactly where I was and what I was doing,” said Tomeka Barbour. Barbour, like many of us, will never forget. That’s why yet another memorial was offered to the people of DC: three pieces of steel from the Twin Towers. “Of course, we should do whatever it takes to make that happen,” Barbour exclaimed.
“I think it”s cool. It’s such an honor,” says another District resident.
It is an honor, or at least it was. The pieces of steel were set to be delivered in a huge ceremony on August 28 by the FDNY Fire Family Transport Foundation. But now, the DC Fire Department is off the list.
“It’s sad on so many levels,” said the Foundation’s President. Speaking to 9NEWS NOW reporter Delia Goncalves, Paddy Concannon says the deal has been in the works for a year. They’ve coordinated with state police departments for escorts along the route, and he says they confirmed with DC Fire and EMS back in April.
However, they say since DC Fire Chief Dennis Rubin will be out of town, the department backed out. “If one person can’t make it I don’t see why the entire run can’t go on,” says Concannon. “There really is something that is a missed opportunity by the Washington DC Fire Department.”
“I don’t believe we committed to that date,” counters DC Fire and EMS spokesman Pete Piringer. Piringer says the department considers the offer an honor and says the Chief would like to attend but will be at an International Fire Chief Conference in Chicago. They hope to reschedule in the fall. “We are disappointed too,” says Piringer. “Because we want to give it the proper place and honor it deserves.”
Unfortunately, it’s the foundation’s date or no date at all. The group’s president says because of this confusion he’d rather wait to work with a different administration.
They hope the Arlington County Fire Department will receive the gift August 28; however, to date, that department hasn’t heard anything about it.
Response from DC Fire & EMS Department Chief Spokesperson Pete Piringer:
The men & women of the DC F&EMS were honored to be working with the FDNY-Fire Family Transport Foundation Iron and Steel project to bring a piece of the World Trade Center steel to the Nation’s Capital. The FDNY-Fire Family Transport Foundation Iron and Steel, a 501(c)(3) organization has been in negotiations for months in an effort to deliver pieces of Iron and Steel to the District of Columbia, which is no easy task in itself. Efforts have taken place and conversations have occurred, but no official request had been made from the DC F&EMS Department – which is the first requirement of the Foundation to move the steel beams. In the meantime, before the official request can be offered by DC, many logistical requirements such as where to hold the event, appropriate District of Columbia memorial sites (where to erect the large steel beams), and all the logistics that go along with an event fitting of a gift of this nature are being pursued. In addition we consider this to be an event suitable to include area fire service organizations and all of the fire chiefs from throughout the National Capital Region. The date selected by the Foundation not only corresponds with the first week of public school in DC, as well as some other major events and activities in the area that require our attention, it conflicts with many area Fire Chiefs’ attendance at an International Fire Chief’s Conference. At the same time, we must explore local funding sources to support all of non-funded logistical requirements of the FDNY-Fire Family Transport Foundation. The DC centric event will be measured by previous events at Fort Benning, GA; Camp Lejeune, NC and more recently Shanksville, PA that had drawn thousands of spectators and participants, including a motorcade of 1,000 bikers along the way. Although there is probably no better fire department in the Nation familiar with special event planning on a regular basis than DC F&EMS, we are quite aware of the planning, associated cost and other commitments necessary and are still developing the resources to best host and support this effort in a deserving fashion. We have welcomed the opportunity, but suffice to say the date imposed by the NY organizers is not feasible for DC F&EMS. It is unfortunate that organizers felt necessary to voice their frustrations in a negative manner by contacting various media outlets speaking in a disparaging way towards our Chief blaming him for the inability to meet organizers varied demands. In fact, conceptually, there is no one more supportive and committed to seeing the pieces of World Trade Center steel arrive in the Nation’s Capital. That being said we look forward to working with current or future organizers to someday bring the “Iron and Steel’ to DC and have it displayed in a place of honor and tribute in the Nation’s Capital.