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The Seven Minute Fire
Part V of "Pentagon RESCUE? Open, Bloody, Questions . . . "
by Carol A. Valentine
President, Public Action, Inc.
Copyright, August, 2002
May be reproduced for non-commercial purposes
August 18, 2002 — The rewriting of history was fictionalized by George Orwell in "1984," but if you want to see the real thing in action in contemporary America, look at what was done after Public Action published "Pentagon RESCUE? Open, Bloody, Questions . . ." on June 23.
You can read the original article here:
The article shows that the Pentagon chain of command conducted a sham "rescue" at the Pentagon on 9-11. Why would they do that? Well, there is good reason to suspect the fire and structural collapse at the Pentagon were, in part, covers for the murder (purge) of some military intelligence personnel. The disingenuous rescue attempt was slicked over the top to disguise the truth and to provide a plausible explanation of the victims’ deaths.
"Look! Look! We’re trying, but the fire just won’t go out!"
"Look! Look! We’re trying, but the building is too unstable!"
"There cannot be any survivors; it just would be beyond comprehension." (This last is a direct quote from Donald Rumsfeld, September, 11, 2001.
"Pentagon RESCUE? Open, Bloody, Questions . . . " relied primarily upon official photos, news articles, and press conference transcripts freely available on DoD websites. Among other things, the article documented that:
- Military aviation firefighters from nearby bases should have been called to extinguish the fire from the (alleged) crash of Flight 77, but were not;
- Civilian firefighters were used instead;
- Fire fighters use foam, not water, to extinguish aviation fuel fires;
- Pentagon fire fighters used water, not foam, on the fire;
- The fire burned for at least 60 hours — it was still burning late Thursday, September 13.
(See "Flight Data, Cockpit Voice Recorders Found in Pentagon Wreckage," FoxNews, September 14, 2001.
On June 27, I posted "Pentagon RESCUE? Open, Bloody, Questions . . . " to four Internet Usenet groups: soc.veterans, rec.aviation.military, alt.politics.bush, alt.disasters.aviation.
The agents of the Ministry of Truth who frequent those forums answered with these non sequitur arguments:
- They said the author [this writer, Carol Valentine] knew nothing about extinguishing aviation fuel fires. They simply ignored the scientific, civil, and military experts cited in the article, who said foam, not water, must used to extinguish aviation fuel fires.
- They said that the jet fuel from the Boeing 757 burned off in a few minutes, that the fire was thereafter fueled by paper and wood, and that water SHOULD have been used, and was used, on the Pentagon fire.
One agent of the Ministry of Truth even said he had personally fought a refinery fire with water!
Another poster quickly beat down those arguments. But almost a week after my original posting, the agents hoisted a third argument:
- They said foam SHOULD have been used on the Pentagon fire, and foam WAS used.
This URL was given in support of that statement:
It is entitled "ARFF [Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting] Crews Respond to the Front Line at Pentagon" written by Stephen Murphy, the executive editor of the National Fire Protection Association Journal ("NFPA Journal"). The dateline states the article was published on November 1, 2001. Here is the opening paragraph:
"When a hijacked Boeing 757, skimming the street lights, smashed into the Pentagon on September 11, firefighters at nearby Reagan National Airport were the right responders in the right place with the right equipment."
Eerie. The prescient opening paragraph addressed the very points I was to raise seven months later in "Pentagon RESCUE? Open, Bloody Questions . . ."
Then, the next two paragraphs challenged everything the media led us to believe about the long-lasting fire at the Pentagon:
"Being among the first responding fire units, National’s aircraft rescue firefighters (ARFF) crews were able to set up their apparatus directly in front of the gaping hole in the Pentagon. That was where their training in fighting aircraft fires and the capability of their foam units to extinguish jet fuel fires were put to the best use.
"The ARFF foam units knocked down the bulk of the fire in the first seven minutes after their arrival . . ."
If that was so, what did we all watch on TV?
Serendipitous Arrival of Reagan National ARFF Team
According to the article, shortly before Flight 77 hit the Pentagon, a Reagan National aircraft rescue fire fighting team was already on the road, attending a car accident on the upper level of Airport Terminal B. (Aircraft rescue fire fighters don’t usually respond to car accidents, of course and there is no mention that the cars involved were on fire.) The ARFF team had their backs to the Pentagon. At 9:38 a.m. they heard a dull roar, turned around, and saw the smoke. The article does not mention how the Reagan National team knew the Pentagon fire was the result of a plane crash; however, they left the airport immediately for the Pentagon, which was three miles away. They arrived in two or three minutes and put the bulk of the fire out in seven minutes.
Do the math. The Reagan National team must have arrived at the Pentagon at approximately 9:40 or 9:41 a.m. If they extinguished the bulk of the fire in seven minutes, the "bulk of the fire" was extinguished at approximately 9:47 a.m. or 9:48 a.m.
What serendipity! An aircraft rescue fire fighting team, already on the road attending a car accident they normally wouldn’t attend, hears a noise, sees smoke, concludes the fire was caused by an aircraft, and gets to the Pentagon in three minutes. Using foam, they put out the fire in seven minutes!
This was a fantastic news story. The Reagan National ARFF team were surely national heroes; surely we would expect their story to command immediate national media attention.
No Contemporaneous Coverage
But, curiously, the story of their on-the-spot heroism and competence got no media attention whatsoever. The local Washington, D.C. TV stations, the national TV networks, the Washington Post, the Washington Times, the New York Times, Associated Press, Reuters, Time, Newsweek, US News and World Report, the National Inquirer, etc., all missed the story.
The DoD photographers on the scene didn’t record the Reagan National story on DoD websites; in fact, the photographs (and captions) on official DoD websites showed water being sprayed on the fire. DoD journalists who wrote stories about the Pentagon fire and rescue didn’t record the Reagan National ARFF story either. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Hugh Shelton, Army Secretary White, the Arlington four County Fire Chief (who allegedly directed the fire fighting effort) — none of them mentioned the amazing Reagan National story to news-hungry reporters during their press conferences.
With the nation grief-stricken and reeling over the loss of hundreds of New York firemen, the story of Reagan National ARFF team’s heroism and effectiveness would have rallied our spirits. Their story should have gotten top coverage.
NFPA Coverage Was "Exclusive," Late, and Muted
The banner over "ARFF Crews Respond to the Front Line at Pentagon" reads:
NFPA Journal Online Exclusive
November 1, 2001
Notice the story was "exclusive" to the NFPA Journal. Why would the Reagan National ARFF team would give an exclusive to an obscure trade journal and deny this fantastic story to the rest of the world? And why did the NFPA Journal wait so long (November 1 — seven weeks after the event) to tell their readers this wonderful story?
I decided to research the NFPA website, to see if the archives could throw some light on the matter. The truth is this: The NFPA Journal’s archives show that the story did NOT run in November/December, 2001 issue.
These were the articles included in the November/December, 2001 edition:
Collapse Aftermath– Engineering experts to study the World Trade Center events in a search for answers to why the buildings collapsed.
Evacuation– NFPA will revisit previous WTC study with an evacuation behavior follow-up.
Search and Rescue – NFPA standards guide the way officials search for WTC survivors and victims.
Terrorism: Impetus for Change – NFPA examines its role of providing fire service with standards that aid the response to terrorism.
First Responders – The real thing shows the need to refine first-responder preparedness and protective equipment for terrorism attacks.
Looking Back…at Heroes – Among the dead in the World Trade Center collapse were eight members of our NFPA family.
A Day with the Heroic Firefighters of FDNY – Fellow firefighter understands why they placed themselves in harm’s way at the World Trade Center inferno.
U.S. Firefighter Injuries of 2000 – Last year, 84,550 firefighters were injured, the lowest number since 1977.
Large-Loss Fires of 2000 – The costliest fire of 2000 resulted in a direct property loss of $1 billion.
How likely is it that the extraordinary "ARFF Crews Respond to the Front Line at Pentagon" would be excluded from the November/December issue? As you can see, the NFPA Journal ran several stories about the New York attack and the heroic New York firemen, who were there primarily to perform rescues. Contrast that with the Pentagon attack, and the heroic Reagan National firemen, who were there to fight the fire, and fought it with great success. Surely the Pentagon story was more apropos to the NFPA Journal than the New York stories.
As you can see from the links given above, the NFPA Journal archives show the story about the Reagan National ARFF team and the Pentagon fire was not run in the January/February, March/April, or May/June, 2002, issues either.
On August 4, 2002, I ran a google advanced search, and looked for all the pages in the Internet linked to the November 1, 2001 article. I cached the results of the search:
As you can see, google found no links to the article, not even from other NFPA pages internal to the NFPA website. Had such a fascinating story really been published on November 1, 2001, it is hard to imagine that fire and rescue magazines/organizations all over the world would not link to it. Nor it is credible that the NFPA and its Journal would treat the article like dead wood, with no other NFPA pages prominently pointing to it. (See also Footnote 1 .)
Curiously, even after it was published, the NFPA Journal article was not picked up by any other major newspapers and magazine. Promoting your magazine’s outstanding stories to other news organs is a standard part of any magazine editor’s job — and promoting this article should have been a piece of cake. Can you see the cover story in LIFE magazine? Pictures of the ARFF team on the front cover, with this headline:
The Untold 9-11 Story:
Reagan National Airport Fire Fighters
Are Unsung Heroes of Pentagon Terror Attack!
But what the Reagan National ARFF team did at the Pentagon has been told to a very, very, limited audience. Why? Would we be justified concluding that the NFPA article was an attempt to rewrite history after an embarrassing expose?
Of all the liars who have thought to play
Their tricks on trusting fellows and betray,
Which has not, when caught in expose
Wished to change his words of yesterday?
Before we settle on a conclusion, let us take the NFPA Journal story on face value and examine it for consistency with other known facts.
Seven Minute Fire Burns For Days
Look at this quote again:
"The ARFF foam units knocked down the bulk of the fire in the first seven minutes after their arrival . . . "
According CNN, the section of the roof collapsed at 10:10 a.m. Recall that the structural damage to the building — caused by the alleged plane crash — had already occurred at 9:38 a.m. If the bulk of the fire was out by 9:47 a.m., what caused the roof to collapse 23 minutes after the bulk of the fire was out?
Notice that flames are still shooting out after the collapse of the roof at 10:10 a.m., despite the fact that the "bulk" of the fire had already been put out.
Despite the anomalies, the statement that the Reagan National ARFF people put the fire out in seven minutes using foam shows how long professionals would expect such a job would take. So why all the did the fire burn for days, and require the attendance of hundreds of firemen? Or was the several-day-long fire media spectacular merely an exaggerated and hyped-up response to a standard mop-up operation?
For the American Forces Information Service September 12 coverage, see "Pentagon Open as Rescue Work Continues."
Problems With Truck 345
The NFPA Journal article states that:
". . . Foam Unit 331 hit the fire with foam from its roof and bumper turrets . . . ,"
then Foam Unit 331 ran low on foam. The article states:
"Prior to Foam Unit 331 running low on foam, National’s Foam Unit 345 was called to respond."
But the Military District of Washington displays a photo of truck 345. It is clearly spraying water, not foam, into the fire. The caption under that photo reads:
"Fire truck 345 from Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Fire Department throws a stream of water into the collapsed point of impact as smoke billows from the Pentagon shortly after an airplane slammed into the west side of the building."
The NFPA statement contradicts the DoD statement and the DoD photograph. Will the real Unit 345 please stand up?
Geoff Metcalf Shows Foam Pics
The Ministry of Truth people also cited this website to support their contention that foam had been used at the Pentagon on 9-11.
That is the web page of World Net Daily columnist and talk-show host Geoff Metcalf. Go there to see photos that Geoff says show foam being used on the Pentagon fire. How do we know what we see is really foam? Because Geoff says so. Read the text that accompanies the photos.
Geoff does not cite the source of the photographs or accompanying text, nor does he cite the name of the photographer, the news agency, publication, or source web page. How much trust would you put in documentation like this? But let’s examine the caption adjacent to Picture No. 4:
"Picture No. 4 is a closer view of the hinge area of corridor 4 mentioned previously. You can clearly see the fire suppression foam’s loosing battle against the aviation fuel."
In the foam vs. fire battle, the NFPA Journal says the foam won in seven minutes. On the other hand we have Geoff, who says the foam lost. So there is a problem with consistency. It’s hard enough to believe the Ministry of Truth says, but it’s even harder to figure out what they are actually saying.
Moreover, if the copious amounts of foam shown (on the lawn) in Geoff’s photos failed to put the fire out (in the building), we must begin to suspect the fire was not an aviation fuel fire after all. Surely that’s logical? And why, oh, why was there no contemporaneous national coverage of the Reagan National effort? Why was the event only recorded by fringies like Geoff Metcalf, and a November 1, "online exclusive" of an obscure trade magazine?
Arlington County Fire Chief Talks About Foam
Now let’s turn our attention for a moment on a September 12, 2001 Pentagon news briefing.
A reporter asks Arlington County Fire Chief Ed Plaugher, who was, we were told, the fire- chief-in-charge at the Pentagon on 9-11:
Question, but with a very brief prelude. Yesterday, earlier, of course, most of the smoke and the fire seemed to be fuel from the plane, and then late yesterday afternoon, that had dissipated or been put out, and there was light smoke, and actually very little late in the afternoon. Now there’s a lot more. So, there are two questions, or a two-part question: One, what is burning? And two, what’s caused the fire, apparently, to start up again?
We were never able to fully extinguish the fire in the roof structure. We were able to get it mostly knocked down, and again because we’re having extreme difficulty making access under the slate roof, it’s to be expected to take awhile to get there. We have had the fuel from the jet catch fire again, and we’re now in there with some additional hand-lines and some foam-lines, with aircraft fire-fighters inside of the insides of the Pentagon trying to suppress it, this time with fire-fighting foam.
You said aircraft firefighters?
Yes, from the airport.
From the airport?
From Reagan National Airport.
From the above exchange, notice:
1. Fire Chief Plaugher does not correct the reporter’s statement that "Yesterday, earlier, of course, most of the smoke and the fire seemed to be fuel from the plane, and then late yesterday afternoon, that had dissipated or been put out."
Plaugher did not say: "A team from Reagan National came out here with foam and put the bulk of the fire out by 9:47 a.m. What you see going on now is just mop-up." Nor did he say, "Sorry, you have fallen prey to an ordinary layman’s ignorance of fires. It is not possible to judge a fire by the volume of smoke. That fire has been winning the battle ever since yesterday morning."
No, he let the report’s statement stand, indicating he found nothing wrong with the facts as presented: The fire began with the 9-11 incident, and abated late in the afternoon on September 11, only to flare up again.
2. Plaugher said that "this time" (September 12) fire-fighting foam was being used. Those words imply September 12 was the first time foam was used on the fire.
Later, this question:
Can you describe how many firemen have been involved in this, how many units, or any way that you can, to give us a quantitative estimate?
Actually, believe it or not, we do not know. We had just this tremendous outpouring of help from the entire community, and we had firefighters and fire units from places that I didn’t even know existed, here to help with the situation . . . "
This statement is not credible. Given that Plaugher was (allegedly) in control, how could he not know who was on site helping him?
What a natural opportunity for Plaugher to mention the lightning-fast response of the Reagan National foam team, and their wonderful performance on September 11: Arriving in two or three minutes after the event and knocking down the "bulk" of the fire in seven minutes. We might have expected Plaugher to laud them. But Plaugher did not breathe a word about their visit. If Reagan National had been at the scene on September 11, why was their visit kept so quiet?
"Roof Fire" Was A Diversion
Well now, let’s see. They should have used foam, but they didn’t. Or they did use foam, but they hoped no one would notice.
Several times throughout the press conference, Plaugher made mention of the "stubborn" roof or attic fire. The impression is given throughout this press conference and other contemporaneous media coverage that the persistent fire, together with unstable sections of the damaged building, was preventing the rescue of victims.
The Washington, D.C. area is awash with construction companies and cranes. As soon as the professional fire and rescue people saw any danger of the roof collapsing, cranes should have been ordered. Certainly, at 10:10 a.m., when the roof did collapse, cranes should have been ordered to reach those almost certainly buried by the debris.
Cranes were on the scene the next day, September 12. This NPR photo shows two cranes, right next to the collapsed roof. There is no sign of fire, and no sign that the cranes were being used to lift the debris to rescue the victims trapped beneath.
Look at this photo, taken on September 13, again showing cranes right next to the collapsed roof. Again, there is no sign of fire, and no sign that the cranes were being used to lift the debris to rescue the victims trapped beneath. Between the two photos, taken 24 hours apart, note that there was no progress in removing the debris to rescue the victims.
FBI Handcuffed Reporters Who Got Close To Fire
The FBI was edgy about anyone getting close enough to the fire to have a good look at it; so edgy that they handcuffed and dragged away reporters who got too close. Look at this exchange between a reporter and Pentagon flak ("Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs") Victoria Clarke:
Around that side of the building where the fire is and where the fire fighting’s going on, I would appreciate it if you could intercede on behalf of the FBI to make sure reporters are allowed into a certain area there and allowed access in there so — and not being threatened or, in fact, handcuffed and dragged away, that reporters do have an area close to the action where they won’t necessarily interfere with things. But I — would you —
Absolutely. You know, as I tried to say at the beginning of this, we understand and appreciate what you’re trying to do. Understand and appreciate just how difficult this all is.
You know, Pam, as you said, this has never happened before. People are dealing with it remarkably, and we are going to make every effort we can to provide that kind of support, that kind of news and information to you, as we can. So we will work on that.
The only reason I say that is the FBI was just — granted they have a job to do, but they were a bit overzealous yesterday I think, and — and just —
"Let me push back on you a little bit. The FBI is doing a phenomenal job. And they have an extraordinary task on their hands, both here and elsewhere. And we, I think, surprised them a little bit, saying hey, here we come, and we didn’t give them much advance notice. But going forward — and, you know, as you get into day two of this, we can start to put a lot more of those processes in place. So, heard and understood."
Reagan National ARFF Team May Have Gatecrashed
What are we to conclude? The professional aviation firefighters from Reagan National have committed themselves: It is realistic to expect that their team, using foam, could extinguish the "bulk" of a fire resulting from a Boeing 757 crashing into a building such as the Pentagon in seven minutes.
How many office buildings burn for 60 hours, despite the presence of hundreds of firefighters? Remember, the Pentagon is a masonry building . . .
Read the original article at:
It is quite evident that the FBI stage managed the "persistent fire," that it handcuffed and roughed up reporters who came too close, that the persistent fire was used as a pretext for stalling the "rescue" of the victims. A delayed rescue lent the explanation of their deaths more credibility.
Pentagon Plane Crash Disaster Predicted:
County Fire Department To Extinguish Fire
It is of course possible that the story of the serendipitous arrival of the Reagan National ARFF team is quite true. If you visit the website of the Military District of Washington, you will learn that in October, 2000, there was a practice exercise for Pentagon emergencies; scenarios in the practice session included a terrorist attack and plane crash. See the November 3, 2002 article "Contingency planning Pentagon MASCAL [mass casualty] exercise simulates scenarios in preparing for emergencies,"
The article opens with these words:
"Washington, D.C., Nov. 3, 2000 ? The fire and smoke from the downed passenger aircraft billows from the Pentagon courtyard. Defense Protective Services Police seal the crash sight (SIC!). Army medics, nurses and doctors scramble to organize aid. An Arlington Fire Department chief dispatches his equipment to the affected areas. "
Note that the plane crash takes place inside the Pentagon courtyard, and that the Arlington County Fire Department is called in to extinguish the fire.
According to the article, one of the participants thought the exercise was an excellent preparation for any potential disasters.
"’This is important so that we’re better prepared . . . This is to work out the bugs. Hopefully it will never happen, but this way we’re prepared . . . ‘"
The article goes on to say:
"A major player in the exercise was the Arlington Fire Department.
"’Our role is fire and rescue,’ Battalion Chief R.W. Cornwell said. ‘We get to see how each other operates and the roles and responsibilities of each. You have to plan for this. Look at all the air traffic around here.’"
This passage is also of interest:
"Burrell [Jake Burrell of the Pentagon Emergency Management Team] has coordinated these exercises for four years and he remarked that his team gets better each year. "
We have already noticed that, in these practice sessions, the Arlington County Fire Department was designated to respond to a fire caused by a plane crash. There was no mention of requesting foam trucks and ARFF teams from the metropolitan airports. This surely was a fundamentally flawed emergency response training exercise. Furthermore, it suggests that on September 11, the Arlington County Fire Department was THE designated fire department to handle such a disaster, no matter how unsuited to the task they were.
It may have been that the arrival of the ARFF team from Reagan National was totally unexpected. Knocking the "bulk" of the fire down in seven minutes was not part of the 9-11 gameplan. Certainly the long-lasting fire was used for maximum opinion-molding effect. Thus when the Reagan National team took seven minutes to quench the "bulk" of the fire, their efforts could not be lauded, and their work was kept far from the public eye.
But, after the publication of "Pentagon RESCUE? Open, Bloody, Questions . . . " and its posting on Usenet forums, it suddenly became very important to publicize the feat of the Reagan National team, at least to a certain audience — the fire fighting audience. The rest of America and the world will continue to be denied the story, of course. No need to disturb still waters. That’s why the amazing NFPA Journal story has not been widely promoted since it was first "released" on November 1, 2001.
In any event, the Ministry of Truth sent its agents out on a Mission Impossible. By trying to cover up the anomalies of the Pentagon rescue effort with the questionable NFPA "November 1 online exclusive," they have drawn even more attention to the Open, Bloody, Questions . . . of the Pentagon RESCUE.
Footnote 1. On August 12, I went to the top of the archives page and clicked on the Author Index link.
I searched for the name of author of the NFPA Journal article. "Stephen Murphy" was not listed as an author of any NFPA Journal article. I cached the results of my search:
Again, On August 12, I went to the top of the archives page and clicked on the Subject link.
I searched for "Aircraft crashes," "Aircraft Fires,""Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting” and "Pentagon." I found no mention of the November 1, 2001 article: "ARFF Crews Respond to the Front Line at Pentagon." I cached the results of my search at:
I found it strange that such an important subject as this would not be listed in either the author or subject index.
See other 9-11 articles by Carol A. Valentine at http://www.public-action.com
All original works copyright 1996-2004 Carol A. Valentine