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Oral histories of 9/11 firefighters to be released
Newsday - Saturday, August 6, 2005
BY WILLIAM MURPHY
The Fire Department will release voluminous records next week containing the oral histories of city firefighters in the days after Sept. 11, 2001.
The department said Friday that the histories and other information, including recordings and transcripts of dispatcher calls, would be released to the media on a set of 23 compact discs.
The material does not include any of the calls from citizens to 911 that day, the department said.
The state Court of Appeals ordered the release of the material in March in response to a lawsuit by The New York Times, which has sought access under the Freedom of Information Law.
However, the court said the firefighters and superior officers who gave the oral histories could have some sections of the recordings removed if those sections would "cause serious pain or embarrassment" to those who were interviewed.
It was unclear how much may have been ordered withheld by the court or how many of the 500 fire personnel who were interviewed had sought to prevent disclosure.
"We are grateful that the court gave our people the opportunity to redact some of the material," Peter Gorman, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, said Friday.
"When these interviews were conducted, we thought they were going to be confidential, and things were very, very raw in those first few days" after the attack, he said.
The Court of Appeals said in its ruling that the Fire Department at first said it had told the fire personnel the interviews would be confidential.
"This statement, if true, would be highly relevant to this case -- but it was later acknowledged to be in error," the court ruled.
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