On this week’s episode of 9/11 Free Fall, former controlled demolition technician Tom Sullivan joins host Andy Steele to explain the process involved in leveling skyscrapers and offer his insights into the destruction of the World Trade Center.
Many people will remember Tom from AE911Truth’s signature film 9/11: Explosive Evidence — Experts Speak Out. We are grateful to have Tom back almost a decade later for this fascinating half-hour interview.
Welcome to 9/11 Free Fall. I'm the host Andy Steele. Today we're joined by Tom Sullivan. Tom was employed by Controlled Demolition Incorporated for three years as an explosives loader and as an industrial photographer. He worked on projects such as the Seattle Kingdome, Three Rivers Stadium, Philadelphia Naval Hospital, KeySpan Gas Holders, and others. He's also a signatory to the AE911Truth truth petition calling for a new investigation into the destruction of the three towers in New York on September 11th as well as one of the experts featured in our documentary, 9/11: Explosive Evidence — Experts Speak Out. Tom, welcome to the show.
I'm glad to be with you today.
I want everyone to get a better sense of who all our guests are on the show and get your personal 9/11 story. I think it's important for the oral history. So please first elaborate on your history and controlled demolition. And then also tell us where you were on the day of September 11th and how you heard the news.
Well, I was in Annapolis and I watched it on the TV, and when I saw it I immediately knew it was controlled demolition. It was not an airplane. No question when I saw it, and of course I didn't... nothing changed my mind.
Well, obviously from all of your experience in bringing down the Seattle Kingdome, and I know we played that clip on our webinars every time it comes around in the cycle and it takes a lot of knowledge and a lot of effort to be able to have that knowledge, so obviously you knew what you were looking at the day that it happened. Tell us more about your background. How did you get into the controlled demolition industry?
It's pretty simple. I went to school to see... Doug Loisseaux and his brother. I went in high school with him and Mark, Doug and Mark. Mark was a class ahead of me. I was a photographer in Annapolis, and I heard that they were going to take down a really large antenna array that was used by military that was adjacent to the Annapolis Naval Academy.
So I contacted them and said I'd like to get on site, take some pictures and that kind of thing. The relationship went from there because they said, "Well, we're doing this and we're doing that, and we could use some photography." Because, often times they have a lot of... they themselves have cameras and that mount for implosions as well as a lot of enthusiasts that have cameras that are allowed in vicinity of these things.
So they have a lot of pictures of the buildings coming down, but what they don't have are working pictures, people doing things, people making it happen within the structure. That's where they would have an interest. That's where I had an interest. So the relationship went from there.
And because I know these guys and I asked a lot of questions and I paid attention. I didn't obviously know or was never given pertinent sort of trade secret type of information but I did ask a lot of questions as we went along, something different than the normal, I guess, employee because I had sort of carte blanche. I know the guys, I could walk up to them at any time and say, "Hey why is this?" Or "What are you doing here?" And also because I was roaming a lot of the times with camera, I got to see a lot of the aspects of things that maybe normally somebody that had only one job wouldn't see so much of.
And that's where I... the relationship went from there and I worked for them for about three and a quarter years or so until I went one way and that was sort of the end of that. But that's my relationship, and as I said, I learned a lot, asked a lot of questions, and that's where we off right now.
So I mentioned in your intro that you were involved in bringing down very famous, at least here in the United States, stadiums, Seattle Kingdome, Three Rivers Stadium. Talk about some of the work that goes into a project like that, how long it takes and what are some of the tasks that you got to do in order to make sure that their falls are as perfectly as they ended up doing?
Yeah, that's a key thing. Actually you struck on this, on the absolute key to understanding Building 7 and then subsequently the towers. Building 7, because it was not hit by a... the spectacular theatrics of an airplane, is the smoking gun in all of this. But the thing that's most important is what you just said. And let me help the audience understand this because they don't know. I mean, people just think you take a box full of dynamite and throw it in the building and the building comes down. It doesn't happen that way. So let me take you through a theoretical job and to illustrate what in fact goes on to prepare a building for implosion. And so we'll start with this. When a controlled demolition gets a contract, they... first off they hire a structural engineering firm, which by the way switches back and forth, so no one really understands and can lock in on the trade secret since the Loizeauxs have learned over time.
But anyhow, they hire a structural engineer firm to really look at the building and see how it was built. What held... How this thing went together? Because that's what they'll be have to compromise. And that would be the next step was to send a single crew member, a leader, a crew member to the site. He works generally with the general contractor that's been hired by the entity to take the building down. Very rarely is controlled demolition the primary. It's usually the secondary subcontractor that is the controlled demolition position.
So you got your CDI guy on site. He's working with labor and they proceed to compromise the building. This can take four weeks, it could take six weeks, it could take six months. It depends on the complexity of the building but they work at compromising the building. Now, what do I mean by compromising? Well, it starts with, obviously you remove the windows because you don't want glass flying all over the place when these buildings come down. And next thing you do is you start to remove key structural elements within the building. For instance staircases, staircases are cut. If they are concrete, the steps are cut, so they don't lock on as basically like a backbone of a building. You want to remove that structure. So the staircases are compromised. The elevator shafts are compromised. The steel is cut, the elevator cars are removed and on and on we go as far as the structure. Now in a steel building, which is what I have my most of experience with outside of the Kingdome, which is concrete, reinforced concrete.
Steel buildings, obviously you got I Beams running all over the structure that holds it. Now what we do is we compromise those steel I Beams. We cut them and we... How do we cut them? We don't cut them all the way through, we cut the web or the face of that. And we cut that. So when the time comes for loading on implosion day, then that I Beam... all it needs is a shaped charge that goes against the face of that I Beam that will cut that and allow the building to collapse.
Sometimes we even have to apply a kicker charge, oh maybe a quarter stick of dynamite placed behind that on a sandbag just to make sure that that I Beam doesn't lock up and prevent the building to fall on nader. And now on nader, that's a term that means the building fall straight down on its footprint.
And as you watched Building 7, it did an excellent job at that. It just dropped beautifully. You couldn't ask for a better implosion. Does that happen in real life? Heck no, absolutely not. It doesn't happen that way. These guys spent years and years, these contractors, not just CDI, these guys spent years and years learning the ins and outs of how to drop a building straight down. The point being is most of these buildings are in a city environment. You don't want them to be casting over to the side. Does that ever happen? Yep. Can happen. It can go over on the side. And sometimes even CDI has the buildings go a little bit to this one side or the other? Not much, maybe five degrees, 10 degrees slip to one side or the other, but they just try to do it the best they can. They want to keep the rubble. They want to keep the building within its own footprint for easy removal. And they obviously don't want to harm adjacent structures for having the ability to cast to one side.
But like I said, they can happen, also what can happen if it's improperly loaded, and it can happen, never has happened with CDI, but I know of instances where it has happened, the building can be in part imperfectly or halted on its way down because the charges didn't go off in the right way, and the building essentially locks up. And now you have a structure enormously dangerous because it is teetering on collapse, but you still have to send crew in to rearm it and keep that implosion going.
So it's a lot of technology, a lot of engineering, but at the same time there is a lot and lot of basically just art. I mean, it's just the experience and the subtleties of knowing it, how to do this and where to put this because you're engineering a wave of destruction moving through that building, which will bring it down successfully onto the ground in a pile of rubble. And that takes art. I mean, it just really does. It's not easy to do.
So Building 7, as told by the government is an anomaly of common sense because it just doesn't happen that way. They want you to believe that an office fire, which burns well below the melting point of steel, caused this near perfect structure... near perfect implosion. And as I outlined before, when we do it, the charges are timed within milliseconds. I mean, it is very, very delicate. It is extraordinarily precise, extraordinary. A fire doesn't have that precision at all.
So if nothing else, even if the wild is where you can sit there and look at this and say, "Yeah, maybe it can happen." Well no, it can't. But let's give you the very large benefit of a doubt and say, "Well, maybe it could." Well then Building 7 wouldn't come down perfectly. You have a building, you have a fire initiating heat on one side, and it has to be uniform and timed perfectly.
Now I can segue over to the towers and say the same thing. You'll have again, did it happen? Jet fuel doesn't burn hot enough guys. It just doesn't to melt steel, but we're told it did. And we're also told that a jet airplane hitting on one side will cause a implosion, all way uniform. I mean will cause a failure, a structural failure all the way across that floor and cause it to pancake down. Now that doesn't happen again. It's just is beyond that but Building 7 is the easiest one to illustrate how there is a great flaw in what we're being told. So I hope that helps.
It certainly does. And I guess if there's any potential mad bombers out there or terrorists who have any designs on bringing down a building by starting some fires around a single column, you're telling me that they're going to be highly disappointed that that's not possible even though NIST says?
Yes. I mean bring your hot dogs. You'll be able to roast some weenies, but that's about as far as you're going to get until the cops come in. It's just not going to happen. And now, again it just can't happen. And it just defies physics. It defies what is in reality. So both explanations, towers and, or Building 7, are just fantasy. It's just pure fantasy. They ignore the common facts that steel doesn't melt at those temperatures. And so it has to happen. It has to... You have to have that steel fail somehow. And the fire from jet fuel, which is basically nothing exotic. Jet fuel is just a slightly more refined kerosene than the normal kerosene you would buy. It's just slightly more refined. It doesn't have exotic properties. It's not locks. It does not fuel by liquid oxygen, like a rocket engine. It doesn't have that capability. Otherwise those jet engines, which are made from a hybrid aluminum, would melt. I'm sorry, it doesn't happen that way. So you don't have that kind of component ready to melt steel or cause that kind of damage.
But I will have to say that the towers looked spectacular. It's nothing like fireballs erupting out of the side of a building to get one thinking like, "Oh boy, this is going to be something." And it was, it was very, very theatrically done and very impressive. However, but in Building 7’s concern, it wasn't. She didn't have that. There was sort of rather pedestrian, simple office fire that they said caused that. So that's why all this is pretty much a hoax. It really didn't happen that way.
Right. And, of course, anyone listening who doesn't like what we are about and what we are doing will likely stick their nose up in the air and throw up the same argument. Well, the steel didn't need to melt because that all it had to do was have the girder to get pushed off its seat by the thermally expanding beams. Well, first of all, that doesn't address the fact that the steel did melt. And NIST’s assertion, though, that this failure in one column can cause this chain of events within Building 7 to bring the whole thing down inside and then outside is utterly ridiculous. And we got a guy on this week who knows what he is talking about. And most of this audience knows this stuff already. We're repeating the same stuff over and over again until it sinks in into the collective consciousness of this world.
Now, what we do is we don't speculate very much. We don't point fingers. We just look at the videos. We look at all the evidence and we tell you what had to happen had to be controlled demolition. However, there are some things behind the curtain that I do wonder about and that we probably won't have an answer to until we have a real investigation into the demolitions of these buildings. But just from your experience, speculating a little bit, Building 7 and the Twin Towers really, you can comment on both? How long in your view would an operation like this take to set up?
Conventionally or unconventionally?
Well, I would imagine that there was probably a lot of unconventional ways that they set this up, particularly since it was supposed to be such a deceptive event. But just realistically. I mean getting the explosives into these buildings and doing all the work of rigging them up. I mean how long would an operation like that take?
Well in the towers, it would take months and probably the twin towers... I mean the Building 7 maybe a month and a half I guess, if you had the sufficient crew on tap. But the towers would have taken, because of the size and because you're doing two buildings, would have taken all probably closer to six months to do in a conventional fashion.
Now I'm curious, too, because obviously there was nobody marching boxes of explosives past security openly but they must've got them into the building somehow. Is this possible to do, clandestinely, with the right training and the right skills, to rig these buildings and get at the proper areas of the buildings to bring them down the way that we saw on that day?
Okay. Now we're getting into the area that you identified as being speculation. But I will help but by, and refraining from using... I will talk in general terms. I won't be... I won't go to names, although they’re there. So let's talk at... Let's take it one at a time.
Let's take the taps okay. How could that, because obviously you're not going to have a crew dismantling staircases and all kinds of things going on and all that business going on. So how could that been done? Well, first off, what the easiest thing would be do is talk to the company that had made maybe a maintenance contract. There was such and we talked to... Get them on board. And then what we need to do is use some, a little exotic explosives, not the normal stuff that we use, RDX and dynamite. Nope. That's not going to do it, not with conventional or unconventional implosion involved here. Which is what we're talking about.
So what would we use? We'd use thermite. Thermite has the ability to burn. And yes, the steel does have to be compromised guys. You can sit there, and I heard what you said before. It has to be compromised. It has to not burn through but certainly fail. And if it doesn't fail you have your head collectively in the fantasy world. And there is no addressing you because it does have to compromise. And by the way, as far as Building 7 and indeed the towers, it has to fail in precise milliseconds otherwise the building doesn't collapse straight down. That's fact, that's proven, there's no way of getting around that. So getting back to your question, well thermite, thermite burns hot and thermite [inaudible] around the building in such a fashion could have done that.
Thermite is why we don't use it and because it's very efficient. I mean it burns hotter and it burns as hot as the sun. I mean it'll do some damage. Why we don't use it? It's extraordinarily expensive. The contractor is there to make money, not lose it. So thermite's out of the question. Very expensive. Who uses that? Yeah, other people. The other people that drive around in black limousines. So they could use it and that would've gotten the job done in both instances, both over in Building 7 as well as the towers. All you need to do is place it and you only need a couple of floors. Now that works for conventional and unconventional. Both of them. Both of them work in the same... in concert, you can only need to do a certain floors to have the weight of the building cause further implosion or destruction of the building.
Now there are people as well, built... the towers, especially the towers, this happened, that happens and then the... They started to pancake down and there you go. Well with every lie, there's a little bit of truth and there's the truth. Yes, that's true. That's how it happens. You compromise a certain amount of floors. You use the weight,the total kinetic load of the floor of the building. Use that to do all the destruction for you.
You just unleashed that kinetic load. And the kinetic load? What am I talking about? I'm talking about every ideal, every ounce of concrete lifted up into that building to build that building has a certain coefficient of kinetic load. It's worth so much to put that there. And that weight, that effort, that energy basically is sitting there ready to be unleashed. Now what a contractor does is use that energy. And that's why we use very little explosives in conventional. We don't use very much. All we're doing is just using that bit of explosives to unleash that kinetic load, which will then cause the damage of the building. Yeah, they're right. But what they're not right is how it happened. That is... That's where we differ.
And it's an art form as you said. I mean I've seen botched controlled demolitions on YouTube. And indeed looking at the examples that I've seen, somebody has got to go in there afterwards and figure out how to dismantle this still remaining part of a building that's not even stable. And if you make the wrong move, maybe you could be falling out of it or the whole thing could be falling over. So it is an art form and a huge risk to take on September 11th, because imagine if it had gone wrong. I think we'd be in a completely different world and I'll be doing different things today. But they did manage to pull it off and get what they wanted from it so far. But of course we are doing something about that, and we're waking up people all the time.
I want to ask you from your experience because there's reports of explosions going off before the main event, before the big controlled demolition that we all witnessed. What would be the purpose of the explosions prior to the main event? Is there any kind of strategic reason to include that?
Yeah. That's not uncommon. Let me help explain that. When a building is initiated and when the charges are initiated, what happens is the initial charges will go off. And it seems like there's a delay. I mean, I don't know. I didn't time it but it doesn't happen right off. You don't push the plunger down and the building just, boom! And it goes down straight. It doesn't, it there's a little bit of delay. It's like, oh, I just heard all these in here. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom! That's what you hear, the 1001, 1002, 1003 or whatever. And then all of a sudden something starts to move and then the building starts to go.
So yes, you will hear explosions go off. If you're inside the building, you better be running. But if you hear that, you do hear the explosions going off because that's going to be just prior to the building starting to collapse. So, that makes sense. That makes perfect sense and I would have expected that.
All right now final few minutes here, have you spoken to other...? And if you're hearing my dog here, he's not feeling so good so he's riding shotgun with me for Free Fall but it's all right. Have you spoken with other controlled demolition experts about this? Is there a fear to come out and speak about this from what you've seen?
I haven't spoken to other people, but I just heard talking in general about this and just saying what's going on in the industry, that yes, I would expect so. I mean for instance, this is a highly political industry. Very, very political. If you want jobs, you better be careful. And because you're dealing with municipalities and politicians and, in a lot of instances, the federal government. So you better be careful if you want to keep working. Therefore, I am not surprised at all that, industry wide, most people have stood down from being involved in what you're doing today. It's just not good business. You could see that come back boomerang back at you in a New York second. And it's delicate. It's very sensitive. And like I said, all your contracts for the most part, a lot of them don't come from your private sector. They come from the public sector, and you got to be careful not to offend anybody or not to do the wrong thing. So I'm not surprised. So that's my reaction based on what I've heard.
Well, Tom, it has been amazing listening to you because you got the expertise. So we can ask you these kinds of questions and really delve deep into it. We are out of time, but thank you so much for being somebody who's not afraid to speak out, putting your name to that petition, and, of course, for coming on 9/11 Free Fall today.