Orio Joseph Palmer (March 2, 1956 – September 11, 2001) was a Battalion Chief of the New York City Fire Department who died while rescuing occupants of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Palmer led the team of firefighters that reached the 78th floor of the South Tower, the floor where the plane had struck the building.
Two hose lines are needed, Chief Orio Palmer says from the badly damaged south tower at the World Trade Center. Just two hose lines to attack two isolated pockets of fire. ”We should be able to knock it down with two lines,” he tells the firefighters of Ladder Company 15 who were following him up the stairs of the doomed tower.
Ladder 15: “Battalion Fifteen to Battalion Seven.”
Battalion Seven: “Go Ladder 15.”
Ladder 15: “What do you got up there, Chief?”
Battalion Seven Chief: “I’m still in boy stair 74th floor. No smoke or fire problems, walls are breached, so be careful.”
Ladder 15: “Yeah Ten-Four, I saw that on 68. Alright, we’re on 71 we’re coming up behind you.”
Battalion Seven Chief: “Ten-four. Six more to go.”
Ladder 15: “Let me know when you see more fire.”
Battalion Seven Chief: “I found a marshall on 75.”
Battalion Seven Chief: “Battalion Seven to Battalion Seven Alpha.” “Freddie, come on over. Freddie, come on over by us.”
Battalion Seven Chief: “Battalion Seven … Ladder 15, we’ve got two isolated pockets of fire. We should be able to knock it down with two lines. Radio that, 78th floor numerous 10-45 Code Ones.”
Battalion Seven Aide: “Seven Alpha for Battalion Seven.”
Battalion Seven Chief: “South tower, Steve, south tower, tell them…Tower one. Battalion
Seven to Ladder 15. “Fifteen.”
Battalion Seven Chief: “I’m going to need two of your firefighters Adam stairway to knock down two fires. We have a house line stretched we could use some water on it, knock it down, kay.”
Ladder 15: “Alright ten-four, we’re coming up the stairs. We’re on 77 now in the B stair, I’ll be right to you.”
Ladder 15 Roof: “Fifteen Roof to 15. We’re on 71. We’re coming right up.”
The South Tower collapsed at 9:59 am, less than an hour after being hit.
One question, if there were only two pockets of fire at 9:52 am, at the point of the impact on the 78th floor of the South Tower, how did fire bring down the building at 9:59 am?
For well over a year, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey refused to release the audiotape of firefighters’ communications from the World Trade Center during the September 11 attacks. In early November 2002, the tape was released to the New York Times, then to other unspecified “news outlets” (according to the Associated Press). The NYT is the only outlet to post excerpts from the tape; no one has yet posted the entire thing.
The tape was recovered by staff members from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, although authority officials could not be precise about the time. In January or February, the Port Authority offered a copy of the tape to Fire Department officials, but they declined the offer.
The fire officials said they were not told at the time that the tape contained important information and did not want to sign a confidentiality agreement demanded by the Port Authority.