Recordings of the the voices of 9/11 firefighters, including at least 19 who died, were released to the public Wednesday after the city recently discovered tapes of more than 1,600 previously undisclosed emergency calls from September 11th.
Most of the communications released are of FDNY dispatches, but they also included 10 calls made to 911 from people inside the Twin Towers.
Melissa Doi called 911 while trapped on the 83rd floor of the south tower. She is the only civilian heard on the newly-released tapes.
Early in the call, Doi is heard describing the conditions in the moments after a hijacked United Airlines flight crashed into the building.
Doi: Are they going to be able to get someone up here?
911 Operator: Of course ma'am, we're coming up for you.
Doi: Well there's no one here yet and the floor's completely engulfed. We're on the floor and we can't breathe. And it's very, very, very hot.
The recording continues:
Doi: I can't see because it's too high.
911 Operator: It's very hot? No fire for now and no smoke, right? No smoke right?
Doi: Of course there's smoke.
911 Operator: Ma'am, ma'am, you have to stay calm.
Doi: There is smoke, I can't breathe.
911 Operator: Okay, stay calm with me, okay. I understand.
Doi: I think there is fire because it's very hot.
911 Operator: Okay.
Doi: It's very hot everywhere on the floor.
911 Operator: Okay.
After the first four minutes of that tape, Doi's voice is then muted out. The recording continues until the line goes dead.
911 Operator: I don't know if she's unconscious or just out of breath, but it sounds like they are unconscious and snoring. That's why I keep talking to her....The line is dead now. They hung up. The line is now dead.
Sections of Doi's recording were first heard during the trial of accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui.
The majority of the recently-discovered recordings are FDNY transmissions, including calls from 19 firefighters and two emergency medical technicians killed during the massive rescue effort. Battalion Chief Dennis Devlin called from the command post in the south tower, describing the scene as a state of confusion.
Devlin: Hey I need you to do me something cause we have no cell phone service anywhere because of the disaster.
Chief Devlin did not survive. Neither did Captain Patrick Brown, who called in as he and his company climbed up into the north tower, about an hour before it collapsed.
Brown: I'm on the 35th floor, okay, okay? Just relay to the command post we're trying to get up. There's numerous civilians at all stairwells, numerous burn injuries are coming down. I'm trying to send them down first. Apparently it's above the 75th floor. I don't know if they got there yet. Okay, Three Truck and we are still heading up. Okay? Thank you. Okay.
It’s up to the families of the victims to decide whether to release the recordings of their loved ones' voices.
The release of the recordings follows an investigation ordered by Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta to uncover all master tapes and find any calls that were missed during the first review, after he learned of a tape that had not been given to the City Law Department. Scoppetta said the workers misunderstood the instructions on what kind of call could be released.
The Fire Department apologized for the misunderstanding with a statement saying: "The Department regrets the delays that arose from personnel not completing this process properly the first time, and we are confident that we have now provided all the calls."
In March, the city released the first round of 130 audio recordings made on 9/11, amounting to some nine hours of calls.
Victims families gathered to listen to the latest calls, and now many want to be sure that all transmissions have been released.
Some people who escaped the towers or lost relatives are also calling on the city to release both sides of the recordings. For privacy reasons, most of the tapes only have audio of the emergency operators.
"I think it's important that everybody hears what actually went on," said Dorine Hutzel, who lost her brother on 9/11. "For me personally, it's part of the healing process, I think."
"I think everybody should know that people who were stuck on the higher floors of those buildings were given peace and hope and a little bit of resiliency through listening to the operators telling them, 'stay calm, help is on the way,'" said Rosemary Cain, whose son died on 9/11.
Some family members say they'll return to court this fall to push for the names and phone numbers of each person who placed an emergency call to be made public.