by David Batty and Julian Borger
August 5, 2002
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A tape recording found in the rubble of the World Trade Centre shows that two firefighters managed to reach the wounded on the 78th floor of the south tower, where the airliner struck, before it collapsed.
According to the New York Times a fire commander can be heard calling reinforcements to the south tower but those answering the call were held up by traffic jams and confusion about where to report. That almost certainly saved their lives.
The tape, which has come to light days before the official report on the fire department's response to the attacks is published, was not examined by the investigators.
The report by the management consultants McKinsey & Co finds that more firefighters died than should have done, because of poor communication and management and lapses in discipline.
Joseph Callan, the assistant fire chief, who radioed an evacuation order about an hour before the building collapsed, told the Guardian: "I got no acknowledgement... Some of those who escaped later told me they never heard it."
The department lost 343 members in the disaster, and Mr Callan admitted that its emergency planning had not been good enough.
"The largest fire we'd dealt with in a high rise building was only over two floors. And we only trained for operations that lasted a few days."