Richard Sheirer, City's Emergency Manager on 9/11, Dies of Heart Attack

By Murray Weiss on January 19, 2012 6:34pm 

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani gestures as he makes a comment about the remains of the former World Trade Center site to Mayor Marc Morial of New Orleans, and Richard J. Sheirer, far right, Director of Mayors Office of Emergency Management Jan. 26, 2002.
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani gestures as he makes a comment about the remains of the former World Trade Center site to Mayor Marc Morial of New Orleans, and Richard J. Sheirer, far right, Director of Mayors Office of Emergency Management Jan. 26, 2002.
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Andrew Serban/Getty Images

MANHATTAN — Richard Sheirer, the former head of the city's Office of Emergency Management during the 9/11 terror attacks, died Thursday of a heart attack on his way to work in Manhattan.

Sheirer, 65, an affable public servant who began public service decades ago as a FDNY fire dispatcher, was named OEM chief in 2000 by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

He responded to the burning Twin Towers with Giuliani and the two barely survived the harrowing collapse when they ducked into a building as the 110 story south tower came down around them. Sheirer was captured in an iconic photograph with a surgical-masked Giuliani escaping the destruction as a cloud of dust engulfed them.

Over the next year, Sheirer helped guide the city’s sensitive overlapping responsibilities of cleaning up massive destruction while ensuring the priority to the search for the remains of thousands of victims including hundreds of firefighters and cops.

After leaving his city post, he joined Giuliani Partners as a senior vice president. He was heading to work when he suffered a heart attack.

He was not the only Sheirer to nearly die in the service of the city.

Sheirer’s son, Andrew, 29, a firefighter, survived a fiery Brooklyn building collapse a few years ago — an event that Sheirer described as more frightening for him that his own brush with death on 9/11.

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