First 9/11 FDNY Chief in Still Serving

Chief Joseph Pfeifer was the first FDNY battalion chief to arrive at the World Trade Center on 9/11. This morning, the New York Post reports the FDNY is implementing a new disaster response plan that Chief Pfeifer formulated:

In a report released yesterday, FDNY brass outline plans to avoid repeating the mistakes made on 9/11, when 343 firefighters were killed. The “FDNY Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness Strategy” study comes in response to the scathing 2002 McKinsey Report, which found the department was badly limited by widespread communication failures, poor coordination with other agencies and overall bad planning.

The new strategy includes preparation for multiple disaster scenarios, a buildup of elite firefighters, high-tech equipment development and a procedural overhaul. “These plans are all based from Sept. 11,” Chief of Department Salvatore Cassano told The Post.

The planning effort was led by Deputy Assistant Chief Joseph Pfeifer, head of the FDNY Center for Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness and one of the first on scene on Sept. 11. Pfeifer lost his brother, Lt. Kevin Pfeifer, in the attack.

I have met Chief Pfeifer on several occasions. He is unassuming.

The Post actually led off their report with, “This is how 9/11 is not going to happen again.” Chief Pfeifer was there the last time it happened again.

Some might correctly speculate Chief Pfeifer stayed in memory of his brother and the 343. Yet he also stayed for those who will come running the next time.

Two 9/11 family members run for Congress

One candidate lost both parents and a second lost a brother on 9/11. Now, Marc Flagg and James Ogonowski are running for United States Congress.

First, the Palm Beach Post reports:

Flagg’s parents were killed on Sept. 11, 2001, when their plane, American Airlines Flight 77, was hijacked and flown into the Pentagon. Flagg, a Navy-trained pilot, became active in aviation security issues after the terrorist attacks and this month launched a 2008 Republican congressional bid that he says will stress national-security themes. Flagg, who lives west of Boca Raton, is the only Republican to announce a candidacy for the Palm Beach-Broward District 22 seat held by freshman U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton.

“Prior to 9/11 I was quite happy being just a pilot. Nine-eleven changed everything. My loss of my parents inspired me to make a change and improve aviation security. … As a congressman representing the 22nd District, I will be able to help make our country better, safer, stronger,” Flagg said Monday outside the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where his first official event as a candidate drew one reporter.

Flagg, who now flies cargo planes for UPS, became active in pilot groups after 9/11 and in 2005 became president of a trade association called the Passenger-Cargo Security Group.

While better-known Republicans have balked, Boca Raton GOP activist Jack Furnari says Flagg should not be counted out. “Marcus Flagg is a polished candidate with a compelling story, and he just might be the guy who can take Clay Shaw’s seat back,” Furnari said Monday.

And the Associated Press reports:

Air Force Lt. Col. James Ogonowski is the first Republican to announce his intention to run for the seat of Democrat Rep. Martin Meehan, who is leaving Congress to become chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. Ogonowski’s brother, John, was one of 92 people killed aboard American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles on Sept. 11, 2001.

He said his brother’s death played a “significant part” in his decision to run for Congress. “We lost our innocence that day,” he said. “It’s something we should never allow to happen again.”

Ogonowski, 49, plans to retire from the Air Force next month after a 28-year career. He announced his candidacy at a memorial dedicated to his brother near the house where they grew up in Dracut, in northeast Massachusetts.

Ogonowski describes himself as a fiscal conservative and social moderate.

10:21 PM EDT Update: No challengers so far for lt. col. in primary

The congressional campaign of Air Force Lt. Col. James Ogonowski, whose brother was the pilot of a plane flown into the World Trade Center in the Sept. 11 attacks, got a boost Thursday when two fellow Republicans announced they won’t run and will support him.

Lawrence Mayor Michael Sullivan and former NFL player Fred Smerlas announced they won’t enter the race for the seat being vacated by Rep. Martin Meehan, D-Mass., and said they’ll support Ogonowski, the only announced GOP candidate.

“I decided to stay full-time here in Lawrence,” Sullivan said, noting he had pledged to complete his second term as mayor. “We’re at a tremendous time where economic development is literally at an all-time high.”

“I have faith in Jim. I believe in this guy,” Smerlas said, though he added he’s not met him in person.

If he’s unchallenged in the GOP primary, Ogonowski will be able to build and conserve funds for a showdown with the Democratic nominee. The seat has been held by a Democrat since the Nixon administration.