"We'll have members at that scene until we bring all our guys home," Coughlin said.
Paulie Keating's sister, Jeanne, introduced herself to Frances Santore.
Together, they watched a parade of volunteers bring in food: 30 pies, towers of pizza boxes. They also brought in desperately needed clean clothes--mounds of white socks and T-shirts--for the grimy, soot-laden firefighters.
"I hear John is not only the most senior guy, but the best guy in the house," Jeanne said. She was careful to use the present tense.
Frances tightened her black jacket closer to her body and just shook her head.
"Yeah, yeah, he's a good guy," Frances said.
They made small talk about neighborhoods and high schools in Staten Island, where most of the firefighters in this house grew up and now lived.
"We're still living there," said Frances, attempting a smile.
Tommy Hannafin's four brothers showed up in the late afternoon. At one point, word came that Tommy was taken off the "missing" list kept by the firefighters' union. It was unclear exactly what that might mean.
Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, wearing a New York Fire Department cap, announced at a news conference that as many as 300 of the city's 9,000-member force were missing. Among them were the men of Ladder No. 5: Lou Arena, Vince Giamonna, Andy Brunn, Mike Warchola, Greg Saucedo, Paulie Keating, Tommy Hannafin and Johnny Santore.
It already had been disclosed that several top fire department officials had been killed. Also on the list is the Rev. Michael Judge, a fire department chaplain who was giving last rites to a firefighter when he too was buried by debris.
"You gotta hold on and hope," Capt. Anthony Varriale told the Hannafins. The brothers, with their blond crew cuts and bloodshot eyes, hugged one another in the bright afternoon sun outside the firehouse.
Above them, the firehouse's American flag flew at half-staff.
Varriale, a small, round-faced fireman, watched them but had to avert his eyes after a few minutes. He was not convinced there would be firefighters walking out of that mess on the tip of Manhattan. He had been through tragedy in 1994, this station's worst, when three guys died in a townhouse fire. This was so much bigger; there were so many more bodies to dig out.
"People don't survive very long under mounds of concrete," Varriale said. "But we'll keep waiting until there's no more hope."