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Last Man Down: The Fireman's Story: The Heroic Account of How Pitch Picciotto Survived the Collapse of the Twin Towers

Richard 'Pitch' Picciotto

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Biography: general, Prose: non-fiction

The No. 1 bestselling true story of Battalion Commander Richard Picciotto who, on 11 September, survived the collapse of the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

On September 11th, leading seven companies of firefighters up the B stairway to Tower 1 of the World Trade Centre, Battalion Commander Richard 'Pitch' Picciotto was the highest ranking fire department commander in the twin towers when Tower 2 fell. Pitch and his men were on the 17th floor racing upward when the world seemed to explode around them. Out of radio communication with the command centre and with no time t o reflect Pitch ordered the evacuation of Tower 1. Firefighters under his command staged an orderly retreat until word came that the stairwell was blocked with debris. From his knowledge of the Towers gained during service after the 1993 WTC bombing Pitch was able to lead the firefighters to an alternate stairwell and the descent continued. After 8 minutes when they reached floor 12 Pitch was met with a horrifying sight: more than 50 civilians sitting mutely at desks seemed immobilised in his flashlight's glare. When he ordered them out, out, OUT! wheelchairs began to roll to the door; these were the workers too old, crippled or weak to have made their way out on their own. Pitch ordered his men to stop and form a human bucket brigade to thrust the civilians out of the building, and blue uniforms lined the stairwell. 14 minutes had elapsed since the collapse of Tower 2.

Pushing and cajoling them down and out Pitch was in the 7th floor stairwell when a sound like thunder was heard from above. It took eight seconds for Tower 1 to fall, accordioning into a mound of burning rubble many have likened to hell. Pitch and a handful of survivors woke to find themselves buried on the landing of the second floor, in an inky cavity broken by the screams of injured men. This is the story of how they made it out, and how Pitch Picciotto, the highest ranking firefighter survived the collapse of the twin towers and led his men to safety.

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