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Report: 9/11 workers brave amid chaos

/ Source: The Associated Press

Draft reports from the federal Sept. 11 commission say emergency workers performed with bravery at the World Trade Center but were not coordinated in their efforts, according to a published report.

Among the communication breakdowns was a warning from a police helicopter that the north tower was about to fall that went unheard by firefighters, The New York Times reported Friday, citing people who have seen some or all of the findings.

The draft findings, subject to revision, were prepared by commission staff in preparation for hearings scheduled for next week in New York.

The reports also cite unreliable communication between fire chiefs and firefighters in the building, who relied on hand-held radios when they believed a repeater, which boosts radio signals, was broken.

The Times said the commission’s findings suggest the repeater may have actually been working, though the significance of that finding is unclear.

Other problems cited include reports of public address announcements telling people to stay in the south tower after the north tower was hit.

In addition, the reports say, tenants had not been told during fire drills that they should not go to the roof during fires, so some who were trapped tried to escape that way.

The reports say admirable performance by civilian fire wardens and building staff, improved stairway lighting and glowing paint along the steps in the trade center, and the preparation of tenants for an emergency helped in the evacuation, the Times said.

Portions of the reports, expected to be made public during next week’s hearings in New York, were shared with police and fire officials, the city’s corporation counsel, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials and lawyers from former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s consulting firm, the Times said.