Fighting the Fire at the Pentagon; Chief Edward P. Plaugher's Antiterrorism Plan, and the Virginia Fire Department That He Heads, Are Credited with Saving Many Lives at the Pentagon on Sept. 11. (Picture Profile)
Maier, Timothy W., Insight on the News
In 1995, Arlington County, Va., Fire Chief Edward P. Plaugher devised an emergency antiterrorism plan that he hoped never would have to be implemented. On Sept. 11, 2001, he had no choice. But his foresight about the unthinkable may have saved thousands of lives.
A recently released report praises Plaugher for fostering a cooperative relationship with federal and local police and fire agencies. Titan Systems Corp., a San Diego-based technology and defense company prepared the study. According to the 200-page report, Arlington County firefighters arrived within two minutes of the attack on the Pentagon and almost the entire duty shift was on the scene by 10 a.m. Chief Plaugher, the report notes, has "long recognized the possibility ... of a terrorist attack in the Washington metropolitan area and has pursued an aggressive preparedness program for such an event."
Another study, commissioned by New York City's Fire Department to evaluate its response to the World Trade Center attack, found fault with communications between fire and police personnel, speculating that this could have cost thousands of lives. Nonetheless, all concerned were quick to point out that this was a problem with planning and should not be cited to diminish the heroic actions of New York's Bravest.
Today, the tragedy in New York City still receives more headlines than those in both Washington and Pennsylvania. While the men and women of the Arlington County Fire Department in Northern Virginia might have every reason to feel slighted, they don't. Not once have they been heard to complain. Made from the same cloth as their leader, Chief Plaugher, they have shown themselves to be more interested in saving the lives under their protection.
Insight: Chief Plaugher, take us back to Sept. 11. Where were you when you heard of the first attack?
Edward P. Plaugher: I was sitting at the credit union in Fairfax [Va.], trying to finish the paperwork for a motor home my wife and I were trying to purchase. The clerk came out and told me the World Trade Center had been attacked. My initial thought was of how a bomber had flown into the Empire State Building during World War II. I was thinking, "How horrible." And I was thinking of my colleagues in the New York City Fire Department and of …
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Publication information: Article title: Fighting the Fire at the Pentagon; Chief Edward P. Plaugher's Antiterrorism Plan, and the Virginia Fire Department That He Heads, Are Credited with Saving Many Lives at the Pentagon on Sept. 11. (Picture Profile). Contributors: Maier, Timothy W. - Author. Magazine title: Insight on the News. Volume: 18. Issue: 34 Publication date: September 16, 2002. Page number: 36+. © 1999 News World Communications, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group.
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