Arlington FD Missing From Nats 9/11 Heroes Day

by ARLnow.com September 13, 2010 at 3:38 pm 3,542 22 Comments

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with new information that has come to light since it was originally published.

On Saturday, the Nationals held a special ‘Heroes Day’ in remembrance of 9/11. The DC Fire Department was a major participant — DCFD firefighters were on hand, players wore specially-made DCFD hats with the Nationals logo in the center, and Nats general manager Mike Rizzo and catcher “Pudge” Rodriguez were recognized as Honorary DCFD Fire Chiefs.

But the Arlington County Fire Department — the first to arrive at the Pentagon on 9/11 — was not invited.

Fire Chief Jim Schwartz, who led the incident command at the Pentagon for 10 days after the attacks, says the department did not receive an invitation from the Nationals to participate in the ceremony. Nor, to his knowledge, did any of the numerous Maryland and Virginia fire departments that assisted Arlington on 9/11. Instead, Schwartz says he only received a flyer advertising discounted tickets for firefighters, after it was forwarded by a colleague at DC Fire.

“I’m definitely disappointed that there wasn’t more of an outreach on the part of the Nationals organization,” Schwartz said. “I assume they have a communication operation over there that ought to know the lay of the land, and I would put this on them for not reaching out and making some sort of formal invitation.”

He said that despite all the other events ACFD was involved with on Saturday, the department would not have had trouble finding firefighters interested in participating in the Nats’ ceremony.

Schwartz recalled a ceremony at a Redskins game two months after 9/11, which made a point of featuring numerous local fire departments.

“I know that we have taken great pains to acknowledge the assistance of all of those other fire departments,” Schwartz said, while noting that he did not fault the DC Fire Department for taking part in the ceremony by themselves.

“It’s not their job to do the outreach to other departments,” he said.

The Nationals have not returned a call seeking comment.

Photo by @natsnq via @welovedc. Hat tip to @katekirk.

  • JRS

    ACFD’s response to the Pentagon was much more than “first on the scene.” An ACFD chief was incident commander on scene until the last fire was put out. Was the decision to do DC-only hats made before or after Arlington declined to come? New York doesn’t choose between FDNY & NYPD (although the usually give short shrift to the PAPD), so the Nats shouldn’t choose either. It sounds like both sides need to coordinate better for next year.

    • NPGMBR

      I’m a little confused by this too. I’m fairly positive that more than one Arlington county unit reported to the Pentagon on September 11th and I’m also quite sure they would have all arrived before any of the DC units did.

      What I think is missing is the unit on Fort Myer. Considering that the Pentagon is a Defense installation and Fort Myer is a DoD post; I would that united participated as well.

    • NPGMBR

      I went to the County’s site and found the Fire Department’s After Action reprot. Judging from what I read in the report Ft Myer’s Foam 161 unit was first on the scene because they were already there. Arlington County was already headed in the direction because they were traveling North on I-395 when they saw the plane disappear from site, however, they did not see what it hit.

      If anyone wants to look at the report you can find it here:

      The information you most likely want to see is in Annex A Page A-4.

  • screwytick

    Who’s saying the nats even provided the hats in the first place? What’s to say that DCFD didn’t make them? Either way, the point here is that the ACFD wasn’t represented; what a missed opportunity!

    • TGEoA

      An opportunity for what?

      • Darwin

        I’m assuming an opportunity to recognize and thank them.

  • Arlington

    Enough of all this memorializing. Time to move on. Good for ACFD for having better things to do.

    • BlueLoom

      Agreed. But we’ll both probably be flamed for holding this view. I expect it will take a generation or more before the memorializing stops. After all, most people no longer even remember the date of the attack on Pearl Harbor, much less memorialize it.

  • Heads up — this story is being updated with new information.

    • NPGMBR

      Thanks for the update. As the ACFD Chief noted, it looks like the National’s PR Department dropped the ball on this one. As I read the ACFD’s report I see that National Airport’s units also responded. Gonna see if I can find a report for DCFD.

  • Dogberry

    I remember that sad day–when the DC firefighters finally got to the Pentagon, they wound up stealing some of Arlington Fire Department’s equipment. Didn’t get returned until days later when Arlington tracked it down and demanded it back.

    • John Antonelli

      Correct. The Pentagon is in Arlington,not DC. Fort Meyer was first on the scene with Foam 161 because they were stationed there. Dc did come as mutual aid and THIEVED very expensive equipment from Arlington apparatus insteod of oh I don’t know fighting the fire and rescuing people, AND DC refused to participate in the incident command system. And the Nationals can’t even figure our the Pentagon is in Arlington and didn’t bother to read up on 09/11 to include tht very well done 09/11 report another poster noted. SPARE ME. The GNATS owe all of Arlington an apology and an Arlington County day at the ball park.

      • Skeptical

        The first Arlington unit on the scene, as I remember, was Engine 101 as I actually spoke to the driver who was on the road nearby at the time of the strike.

  • cmg

    Let’s not forget that the Pentagon is IN Arlington. At least the FDNY know’s that! On Saturday, I went to visit the I-beam from the WTC that FDNY escorted down to the first responding ACFD station, Fire Station 5.

  • Lou

    This is very disappointing. There’s no “honest mistake” explanation. Nobody is that unaware.

  • John Antonelli

    TO add insult to injury, DCFD refused to participate in the 09/11 ceremony at station five in Arlington where we received a gift of World Trade Center Steel from NYC.

  • Pedro

    It’s quite obvious what happened–some kid at the Nationals (who ARE in DC) didn’t think too hard and made the wrong phone call inviting the wrong fire department. The kid’s supervisors didn’t catch the mistake just the team’s clubhouse guy didn’t catch Dunn and Zimmerman wearing jerseys onto the field that said “NATINALS.” Put the conspiracy theories away. It’s a last-place club that still doesn’t have first-rate staff. End of story.

  • Let’s Be Free

    Fort Myer FD was not only first on the scene, they were literally at the scene with a unit in place adjacent to the heliport that then abutted the Pentagon precisely where the building was struck by Flight 77 (it’s likely the hijackers used the heliport pad symbol as a visual target on approach). Fort Myer firefighters literally dived to avoid the incoming plane — their truck was scorched and severely damaged.

    Units from elsewhere in Northern Virginia also participated in the response to the attack, primarily by bringing in units from outlying areas to cover ACFD stations. I recall, for example, that rescue squads and fire engines from Fairfax County and Fall Church City were brought in to cover Fire Station 1 on South Glebe Road. The Aurora Hills station was covered by firefighters from Alexandria. This aspect the response happened so smoothly and so quickly that it obviously had been well-planned and rehearsed in advance.

    • John Antonelli

      Fire station one was covered by units from Prince William County. Loudoun units went to the Pentagon.

  • Oh Boy

    Boy the Nationals really did drop the ball. FYI, units from the city of Falls Church are ACFD units, Engine, Truck and Medic 106.

  • IMHO

    We’re still thinking about the Nationals? The Caps practice in our own Ballston backyard. Plus…they actually win.

    Just saying I’d rather see an ACFD Caps logo hat or better yet a special edition Caps/ ACFD jersey (proceeds of which go to a 9/11 or Arlington related cause)

  • Full disclosure, I am an active DCFD firefighter. With that said, I also recognize the date of this post and subsequent replies but some things should not be left open-ended without addressing.

    All DCFD apparel, aside from a few pairs of work pants and uniform shirts, are provided by the member at our own expense without any type of reimbursement or subsidizing. This includes winter coats, t-shirts, work shoes and hats among other items. All apparel must adhere to regulation standards in each applicable category to comply with our uniform policy , from specific materials, to the font type, coloring and size of fonts on our work wear.

    These caps were provided by the individual members at a cost of approximately 20$ p/ person, and as of today anyone is more than welcome to swing by the firehouse at 1101 Half St SW to purchase your own from the members (this money will go into their “house fund”, maintained by the members to pay for basic necessities the Dept does not provide to a building that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that a group of individuals both live and work out of. This includes coffee, cable, the paper, propane for the grill, condiments, boot polish, paper towels, toilet paper when the City conveniently forgets about us lowly “thieving” firemen, etc.)

    As for the thieving allegations, give me a break! Do you hear members of the DCFD running around slandering other jurisdictions who refused to enter the rings that were on fire? Do you hear us pointing out how we went right to work engaging in suppression efforts and assisting with rescues when everyone else was worried about sectoring, titling and identifying group and task leaders on the outside?

    Remember there are always 2 sides to a story. Could it be possible that in the face of such a catastrophic, game-changing event that our members weren’t concerned about whos Scott Air Paks (our breathing assemblies) or TIC cameras or hand tools were whos? That maybe we were more interested in placing the necessary equipment into the hands of the people actually doing work? By the way, if the tools were used, I would describe them as a needed piece of equipment. And if it was needed, why wasn’t it in use when we arrived, instead of sitting in your apparatus? Yeah, it took days to get a few of your equipment back.
    But when you are walking through corridors in the rings of Americas symbol of Defense and Military strength, filled with water, body parts, office equipment, plane pieces and heavy volumes of fire..do you really think your mind would be on “oh yeah, by the way I grabbed this pak off of Engine 101, better make sure they get it back right away.” I can say that no, my mind is not focused on such a trivial issue. It will all get resolved. You know where we work, we aren’t going far I promise.

    So please, disgruntled members who hold ridiculous grudges from a decade ago. Let it go.


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