At the Pentagon, no electrical workers died from the crash of the terrorist-hijacked jumbo jet, but there were some close calls. Crews from Gaithersburg, Md.-based Singleton Electric Co. Inc. were working on the Pentagon Wedge One (one of the building’s five wedges) when the fuel-laden airplane smacked into the Pentagon’s western wall, between the first and second Wedges. Foreman Mickey Bell had just stepped out of a Singleton trailer when the blast threw him to the ground. Bell was nearly struck by one of the plane’s wings as it sped by him, according to Singleton spokesperson Mike Ingraham. That evening foreman Bell, sub-foreman Greg Cobaugh and other Singleton workers returned to the Pentagon to run temporary lighting inside the building, Ingraham said.
According to John Hardy, president of Capital Lighting & Supply Inc., Alexandria, Va., a company owned by Sonepar USA, Berwyn, Pa., two other electrical contractors, Dynaelectric Co., Washington, D.C., and M.C. Dean were in the Pentagon at the time of the explosion. None of the contractors were hurt, he said.
“Where the plane hit was an area that had just been renovated by Singleton Electric,” said Hardy. “It was really lucky that was the area that got hit because there weren’t as many people, not everyone was moved in yet.”
Capital Lighting & Supply has been keeping its distribution center in Newington, Va., open to Singleton Electric all weekend. “Singleton Electric has been down there all week getting things powered up the best they can in support of the rescue efforts,” said Hardy. Capital Lighting has been supplying temporary stringers, SO cords and lots of different kinds of wire and cable, GFCI receptacles, weatherproof boxes and drop lights.
Since the Sept. 11 attack, Maurice Electrical Supply Co. Inc., Washington, has also been busy supplying Singleton with equipment at the Pentagon.
“We had people on call all weekend,” said Jack Justilian, chief operations officer for Maurice. “We were moving emergency lighting equipment and string lights and things that you would normally hang in a work area that’s been under construction.”
Hardy described the atmosphere as “eerie” following the crash at the Pentagon.
“I was at the distribution center on Sunday and Singleton Electric showed up in an army truck with an armed escort. It tells you the world has changed,” he said.
In nearby Rosslyn, Va., Malcolm O’Hagan, president of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), was startled by a loud bang during a meeting in his office. He looked out the window to see a large ball of fire at the Pentagon. A little while later, NEMA received word that another commercial aircraft was headed in the direction of the Washington, D.C., area and NEMA was asked to evacuate the building.
O’Hagan said that he feels like the rest of the country, “We’re the same as everyone else — depressed and upset about the whole situation. I mean it’s pretty awful.”
Justilian, who lives less than a mile from the Pentagon, said his initial reaction to the terrorist attack was to ensure the safety of his employees.
“The only thing we did as soon as we heard about the plane hitting the Pentagon was we called all our trucks in,” he said. “I think that (the tragedy) stopped all work all over, everyone was glued to the television. I think the whole world stopped.”
Because the Pentagon has been cleaning up rather than rebuilding, O’Hagan said he has not heard of NEMA members increasing their production runs or supplying electrical products.
Justilian said M.C. Dean has been contracted to finish the work on the Pentagon, albeit with some obvious setbacks.
O’Hagan Although NEMA had pursued a joint donation, O’Hagan said most members were already c ontributing to the relief.
“It seemed like just about all of them had pledged some money to the Red Cross or some national fund,” he said.