City of New York releases thousands of files from 9/11 archive

Thousands of fire department files from the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 have been released by the City of New York in response to a freedom of information request by the New York Times.

The released material took up 23 compact discs and includes over 12,000 pages of oral history transcripts compiled by the New York Fire Department in 2001. The information includes almost 200 accounts of emergency medical technicians, paramedics and their supervisors.

In a press release issued by the New York City Fire Department on 12 August 2005, it stated:
"Pursuant to a ruling issued by the New York State Court of Appeals on March 24, 2005, the Fire Department today is releasing additional records related to the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. In accordance with this ruling, these materials are being released with appropriate redactions provided for under the court’s decision. Prior to the court’s ruling, the Fire Department voluntarily provided numerous materials related to the attacks. The Department believes that the materials being released today – including oral histories and radio communications – will serve to further confirm the bravery and courage of our members who responded to the World Trade Center. It is the Department’s hope that the release of these records will not cause our members and their families any additional pain or anguish."

The New York Times sought copies of the material under the freedom of information law in early 2002, but Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's administration refused access, leading to litigation. The state Court of Appeals ordered the release of most of the material in March 2005. Eight families of people killed at the trade center, represented by the civil liberties lawyer Norman Siegel, joined the suit to seek the release. Since then interest has increased greatly and the Fire Department has sent CD's to 460 families. Many of the relatives believe that the released material could bring into question the official version of events and may reveal serious flaws in the city's response to the attacks.

Vast Archive Yields New View of 9/11 (New York Times, 13 August 2005)
Transcripts of oral histories of dispatch transmissions (New York Times website)
New York releases 9/11 documents (BBC News, 13 August 2005)
Voices of 9/11 rescuers heard at last (The Guardian, 13 August 2005)