The Aftermath of Terrorist Attacks

September 14, 2001
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The September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC, are being felt in the hvacr community.

Norma Khan, manager of member services for Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors - National Association (PHCC), was found to be among those who lost their lives on the four commercial jets crashed by terrorists. Ms. Khan, 45, was a confirmed passenger on American Airlines Flight 77. She was traveling to the convention via Los Angeles.

The plane, after taking off at 8:10 a.m. September 11 from Dulles Airport outside Washington, DC, crashed into the Pentagon after hijackers redirected the Los Angeles-bound flight back to Washington.

Ms. Khan coordinated the association's database operations, and was the staff liaison for the Union-Affiliated Contractors, according to PHCC. She had been a PHCC employee since November 2000.

"Norma was a very professional, friendly person, who served the association with great dignity and grace," said PHCC executive vice president D.L. (Ike) Casey. "She will be missed by us all."

Ms. Khan resided in Reston, VA, with her 13-year-old son Imran.

According to Roger Peugeot, owner of Roger The Plumber, Overland Park, KS, and PHCC Region Four director, you couldn't talk to Ms. Khan without hearing about her son. Peugeot said PHCC will be setting up a scholarship fund for Imran. (Information on how to contribute to this fund will be posted in next week's issue of The News.)

SHOW WENT ON

Following the terrible events of September 11, the PHCC board of directors and executive committee were faced with the decision of whether to continue with the September 12-16 annual business meeting and convention events at the Reno Hilton in Reno, NV. The executive committee decided to conduct the annual business meeting as planned, along with appropriate abbreviated seminars. The convention schedule was reformatted to accommodate speakers' needs and other factors.

"PHCC members have been faced with adversity before, and they are strong," commented president Mike Kastner. "Our members expect us to continue with the business of the association."

Peugeot said that about 180 people were assembled in Reno before the events of September 11 closed airports, stranding some attendees en route and preventing others from getting there at all. Some, within driving distance, rented cars and continued to Reno in them.

About 1,000 were registered to attend. It was not known at press time how many did attend PHCC's convention.

Peugeot added the loss of the convention would be "a huge loss to the association." While PHCC has convention insurance, which allows a certain amount of reimbursement in case the number of attendees does not reimburse the association for the cost of the event due to specific natural disasters or events, "If they declare that this is a war, this [convention] won't be covered [by the insurance]," he explained.

The decision of whether or not to hold the convention was made "hour by hour," said Peugeot and communication/marketing director Charlotte Perham. Those already assembled in Reno did a head count and found out how many speakers were available to them. The general sentiment expressed was, "We're not going to let this [terrorism] stop us, " confirmed Peugeot.

FMI SHORTENS MEETING

The Food Marketing Institute's Energy and Technical Services Conference in Cleveland, OH, was into the second day of its scheduled three-day meeting when, during a discussion of supermarket refrigeration, Bob Bittner, director of engineering of Giant Food Inc., brought news of the events in New York and Washington. After an attempt to continue on with a discussion of lighting technology, FMI officials decided to cancel the balance of events.

Shortly thereafter, the hotel where the conference was being held was evacuated. That evacuation lasted five hours while guests mingled outside under clear skies and workers in the downtown area exited the city.

DOE HEARINGS CANCELLED

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) cancelled its scheduled September 13 public hearing regarding the proposed 12-SEER energy-efficiency standard for central air conditioners and heat pumps. It was not known at press time when the hearings would be held.

Greg Mazurkiewicz, news and legislation editor for The News, was in the DOE's building the morning of September 11, accumulating information for the scheduled hearing. Before he knew it, the entire building was evacuated.

"I did not get any of the information I was seeking. And suddenly all the federal buildings, all the museums - every building in DC - was closed."

(Note: Mazurkiewicz's full report appears on page 31. As of September 13, he was still unable to return home.)

PENTAGON REPORT

In regard to the Pentagon building, Johnson Controls, Inc., was in the midst of the Pentagon Renovation Program (PENREN), a seven-phase, 20-year, $1.2 billion project. The Milwaukee, WI-based manufacturer completed the first "wedge" of the building two to three months ago, according to spokesperson Glen Ponczak. Unconfirmed reports at press time indicate that may have been the wedge destroyed in the plane attack.

Johnson Controls received many of the more than 300 contracts awarded for the Pentagon renovation. Once the work on Wedge 1 was completed, it was reopened for occupancy, but Ponczak does not believe it was fully opened and fully occupied at the time of the attack.

Renovating using the wedge concept mirrors the way in which the building was originally constructed, which is intended to ensure all systems will be maintained as each section is updated.

The Pentagon includes more than 26,000 military and civilian defense personnel, as well as 3,000 non-defense support personnel.

A small contingent of the company's Metasys experts maintain offices at the Pentagon. Ponczak said the number fluctuates depending on the current need, from approximately 12 to 24 people. He confirmed that all of these personnel were safe.

STORIES FROM THE HVACR COMMUNITY

Several contractors contacted by The News had stories to tell regarding the September 11 events - stories from their own customers and from personal experience.

Dave Yates, president of F.W. Behler, Inc., York, PA, has work crews at the site of the "underground" Pentagon, the forerunner of the current Pentagon, which are several miles apart. He said the crews reported a lot of helicopter activity overhead because they were positioned between the Pentagon and Camp David.

Yates has two nieces who work in New York City, one near the World Trade Center. Yates noted that both are unharmed.

"She walked to uptown to stay with her cousin, one of my other nieces living in New York City," said Yates. "No cabs or transportation were available. It's a long walk. But I count my blessings that she was among the walking and the living."

Paul Shay, owner of A Real Good Plumber, Inc., New York City, was having a company meeting in the basement of his office in the lower east side of Manhattan.

"We heard the blast and went up to the roof of our six-story building to see what happened," said Shay. "We couldn't believe what we were seeing. Watching those two buildings burn and then watching them fall is the most incredible experience of my life.

"Many of my employees were crying because they have relatives who work at the World Trade Centers. One of my guys rode his bike down to the area and said it was like being in a war zone. He was in a state of shock."

Two days after the blast, Shay was still restricted in his movement around the city.

"What we are experiencing is that if we don't go north of 14th St., we can still do our emergencies. But if we go north of 14th St. we can't get back," he said last week.

Phil Lynch, a tradesman from Hewlett, NY, was close to the scene, too. He said it was "very bad" around his neighborhood on Long Island.

"There will surely be many people from my town who will be dead - dozens I am guessing," he said. "Two of my neighbors are firemen in the city. We await their calls.

"I was at a customer's home, and she said that she works at the World Trade Center on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday."

Mike Craft, of Kraft Plumbing & Heating, Milford, PA, relayed his brother's story.

"My brother works right around the same area, riding the ferry each day from Hoboken, NJ, to New York City," said Craft. "He was in his office and felt and heard the first jet strike the tower.

His thoughts were that a bomb had gone off in the building. He jumped up and ran down the stairs.

"He quickly jumped on the ferry and got a seat by the window. At this time he heard the second jet go overhead and strike. The ferryman said to close the gate and a crowd of people rushed back on board. He got home safely to his pregnant wife and baby.

"Later he talked with his boss who said he ran to the street where total chaos was happening. Someone screamed and he looked up to see people jumping from the building."

SIDEBAR: Industry Associations Cope With Tragedy

The events of September 11 affected many of the hvacr industry's associations. In fact, some of the associations have headquarters in the Washington, DC, area.

Michael Honeycutt, president of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), said that he was in a meeting at ACCA national headquarters when the plane crashed into the Pentagon. The crash site is only about a mile from ACCA headquarters, and Honeycutt said that he could feel the building shake when the impact was made.

Honeycutt said that for the well-being of ACCA employees, the building was shut down and individuals were told to go home. ACCA also made the decision to cancel its Fall Leadership Conference scheduled for September 13. The conference was scheduled to bring together about 60 leaders from local ACCA chapters across the country to discuss leadership issues.

"This literally hit really close to home," he said.

Other associations that call the Washington, DC, area home include the Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Institute (ARI) and the North American Technician Excellence (NATE). Director of Education for ARI, Leslie Sandler, said that she witnessed the plane hitting the Pentagon as she drove to work. Sandler explained that she saw a plane circling in the area and was immediately suspicious since it is a no-fly zone. She also said that after the crash, she did not even make it to work before officials in the area told individuals to go back home.

"We allowed people to go home depending on how they felt," said Clifford H. "Ted" Rees, Jr., president of ARI. He also said that many ARI staff decided to stay because they felt safer in the ARI building.

ARI was set to have some meetings with members from other organizations who were to fly out the same day as the attack. Rees said ARI had difficulty finding hotels for their visitors to stay until flights would resume.

The only other ARI event that had to be rescheduled was the first site visit for the Partnership for Heating and Air-Conditioning Accreditation (PAHRA), in Linn, MO.

Rex Boynton, president of NATE, was set to attend the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors - National Association (PHCC) meeting in Reno, NV. The shutdown of the nation's airports prevented Boynton from carrying out his plans.

Sandler said that ARI also received a great deal of support by e-mail, especially from European industry associations, including Eurovent.

Even industry organizations far from the plane crashes were affected. The Refrigeration Services Engineers Society (RSES), located in Des Plaines, IL, has also felt the impact.

"For the safety and comfort of our staff, we closed at noon," said Heather Waldoch, director of administration for RSES.

Publication date: 09/17/2001

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