As typically occurs in time of disaster, the equipment rental industry has been intricately involved in rescue efforts in the aftermath of the World Trade Center and Pentagon terrorist attacks last week.
As a preferred provider to the Federal Emergency Management Agency as well as a number of New York law enforcement agencies, United Rentals was contacted within a few hours after the attacks and has played a major role, having sent more than 500 generators, 100 light towers and 1,500 diamond blade concrete cutters to help rescue efforts. More than 35 United branches contributed equipment to the relief efforts. The company also supplied flatbed trucks to move debris and other needed vehicles.
"We've had quite a few people right at ground zero working directly with the rescue workers," United CEO Brad Jacobs told RER. "They've done everything asked of them around the clock, from using our forklifts to lift cars and taking sandwiches and pallets full of drinks to the rescue workers. We worked hand in hand with other rental companies, even setting up our competitors' light towers. This was no time for competition, just a time for joining hands and doing what we could to help."
Jacobs said United employees were present in both the World Trade Center and the Pentagon when the planes struck but none were injured. Another United employee was asleep in a hotel across the street from the World Trade Center after being up all night monitoring generators at a film production site nearby. After the explosion threw him out of bed, the employee, Clinton Baird, escaped the building and "got in the ferry and showed up in New Jersey in his boxer shorts," Jacobs said.
United was not the only rental company to provide equipment for the relief efforts. Piscataway, N.J.-based Hoffman Equipment delivered 25 machines from its rental fleet, including machines donated by Terex and JCB. "It's a response from the heart," said sales manager Barry Heffernan. "I sent out a call to truckers and 25 independent trucks showed up with lowboys. I'm getting phone calls from contractors who want to offer equipment and landscaping customers offering equipment operators."
Other rental companies in the area have offered equipment and assistance on an as-needed basis.
Deere dealership JESCO, located across the Hudson River in South Plainfield, N.J., has wheel loaders, excavators and other machines ready to go, and Deere said it was prepared to send JESCO any equipment required for rescue or demolition efforts. Lief Johansson, president of AB Volvo offered to supply New York with wheel loaders, dump trucks, excavators, motor graders and other needed equipment.
Manufacturers Provide Goods, Donate Funds to Attack Relief Efforts
In response to the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania last week, several manufacturers of construction equipment have responded by donating money and quickly providing equipment to help in the search and rescue efforts. The Michelin Group last week contributed $1million to assist the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. The company is also donating round-the-clock, on-site service and up to $250,000 in tires for emergency vehicles of all types involved in the "ground zero" recovery efforts on-going in lower Manhattan.
"It is simply the right thing to do, said MNA chairman and president Jim Micali. "Michelin North America is committed to providing the emergency crews working in the Manhattan crisis area the full resources and expertise of our company."
The "Michelin Relief Fund" has been opened to all 128,000 Michelin employees worldwide who wish to make donations.
Target Products, Olathe, Kan., donated more than $50,000 worth of equipment and supplies to the rescue efforts including cut-off saws, chain saws, bars, chains and blades.
Holdrege, Neb.-based Allmand Bros. has also taken steps to contribute to the disaster relief effort. "Allmand light towers are currently assisting the recovery efforts in New York and our nation's capital," said Jerry Greenquist, vice-president of sales and marketing for the company. "In response to this tragedy, Allmand Bros. redirected light towers intended for other locations throughout the U.S. in order to ship them to these areas of need."
Company managers and employees of John Deere are working with the New York City Emergency Services Bureau, the New York Port Authority and the New York Parks Department to provide needed equipment such as utility vehicles, concrete saws, generators and skid steer loaders. The company has also offered utility vehicles to be used in the relief effort at the Pentagon.
Scheffel Equipment, Somerset, Pa., a John Deere dealership located just five miles away from the site where the fourth hijacked plane crashed, has supplied rescue workers with utility tractors and utility vehicles. In addition, Deere's Construction & Forestry Division is prepared to send loaders, excavators and other necessary equipment to the disaster sites as soon as the federal agencies in charge determine their exact needs. Some 30 TRAMS (tractor rubber-wheeled articulating multipurpose vehicle), produced at the Davenport Works for the U.S. Marine Corps, are on their way to New York City from Camp LeJeune, N.C.
"Our sympathies go out to all those affected by this tragic situation," said Curtis Linke, vice president of corporate communications. "Our thoughts and personal support are with all those working to provide comfort and a sense of direction during this difficult time."
Mike Joseph, sales manager for Magnum Products, Berlin, Wis., says the company is working in a team effort with the United Rentals rental location in Flushing, N.Y., and the corporate office in Greenwich, N.Y., to provide much needed equipment. United Rentals immediately dispatched a number of units into the city, and four truckloads of light towers from Magnum were delivered two days after the attack by Milwaukee, Wis.-based LandStar Inway, which has ensured that a number of trucks are available 24/7.
Communication regarding the equipment needed is filtered through Ed Heinz, manager and Anthony Durante, sales manager at the Flushing location. They are working to maintain the open line of communication, Joseph says. A UR employee is also stationed at the New York police headquarters to relay any pertinent information or requests for more equipment.
“It has been a team effort to make this all happen so quickly,” Joseph said. "If they need 100 lights, we'll get them 100 lights. We'll do whatever we can."
ARA Asks For Red Cross Contributions
The American Rental Association has asked equipment rental industry personnel, including rental companies and suppliers, to make contributions to the American Red Cross on behalf of the rental industry. ARA asks participants to make donations payable to the American Red Cross Fund and mail them to The American Rental Association, 1900 19th St., Moline, IL 61265. ARA will present the entire proceeds to the Red Cross as a collective representation of financial support from the industry.
ARA also has asked participants to inform ARA about volunteer activities offering support or services to victims, survivors and their families or other recovery efforts. ARA plans to document the collective contributions of the rental industry.
AGC Pledges Support to Recovery and Clean Up Efforts
The Associated General Contractors of America has pledged its support to the recovery and clean up efforts in New York City and Arlington, Va. In a letter to President Bush, AGC offered assistance of manpower and equipment through its members.
The association also offered to work with the administration to provide construction expertise to make the nation's buildings safe and free from future terrorist attacks.
"The construction industry stands ready to assist in the rescue and recovery operations as well as the clean up efforts that will immediately follow," said AGC 2001-2002 president, Bob Desjardins. "In fact, AGC members are already onsite in some areas." AGC has provided its chapters and members with the AGC disaster assistance guide entitled AGC Emergency Services Mobilization Program, Construction Industry Guidelines for Disaster Assistance. The manual is available under the "Hot Topics" area of the AGC Web site at http://www.agc.org.
IR People and Products Assist Crash Sites in NY, DC
Following the attack on New York City’s World Trade Center, six trucks loaded with light towers departed the Ingersoll-Rand Equipment Store in East Hanover, N.J., with a police escort to aide in the rescue effort. IR employees at the East Hanover facility then worked into the night preparing four more truckloads of light towers for delivery. The company has supplied more than 60 light towers to emergency management personnel in New York and also is coordinating the delivery of power generators and air compressors to relief efforts. Additionally, the IR Equipment Store in Elkridge, Md., and a dealer, Washington Air, worked together to provide light towers and air compressors to emergency management personnel at the Pentagon.
Caterpillar Supports Recovery and Clean Up Efforts in New York
Caterpillar customers and their employees, along with more than 100 Caterpillar and dealer representatives are working on site to lend support to the recovery and clean up efforts at the site of the World Trade Center in New York City.
Twenty-five contractors who are working at the site are Caterpillar dealer customers, providing both equipment and operator expertise. Several East Coast customers responded to the relief efforts despite being stranded at a training session in Aurora, Ill. Upon receiving notification of the disaster, they immediately began calling their offices to mobilize equipment and operators to assist efforts as soon as possible.
To assist with the rescue efforts, two Caterpillar specialized demolition machines were shipped from the company’s Aurora facility to New York. Two experienced operators from its Edwards, Ill. training facility also made the trip to operate the machines. Caterpillar Rental Power is working with federal officials to get emergency power activated through Cat dealers in impacted areas. The company’s North American Commercial Division is also working closely with dealers to provide needed machines, power generation units and parts to assist in the rescue and clean up efforts.
Caterpillar has offered special assistance to dealers to ensure that the right replacement parts are available to keep its products working as needed. Parts distribution efforts continue as usual throughout much of the world.