New Rochelle’s Bravest You Can Always Count on Them!

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This past weekend’s Nor’easter provided graphic evidence of the New Rochelle Fire Department being stretched too thin. The number of calls received by the fire department spiked nearly 500% due to hazardous safety conditions brought on by the Nor’easter.

On Sunday, October 31 the department experienced a 470 percent increase in emergencies. Over the last three years the department has seen its manpower cut from 168 firefighters to 152, a ten percent drop. Another ten of the remaining fire force are unable to fight fires due to on the job injuries including burns (equaling 6.5 percent of the force).

On Saturday evening the city needed to send its entire on-duty contingent of 27 firefighters to an all hands fire at an apartment building at Locust and Union Streets. Firefighting conditions were complicated by ice, severe winds and overhead electrical lines surrounding the building limiting firefighters’ ability to use a tower ladder to fight the fire. As a result Firefighter Kevin Thomas suffered second degree, scaring burns to his face and neck despite properly wearing his protective gear. Firefighter Thomas had to be taken to Jacoby Medical Center for treatment.

Over the weekend firefighters had to deal with numerous reports of downed trees and live electrical wires.

“This weekend’s events were a graphic illustration of the city’s public safety needs,” said Byron O. Gray, president of the New Rochelle Uniformed Fire Fighters Association.
“Regardless of the obstacles thrown at them our firefighters answered the call time and again.”


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“While this storm was unusual, it had been predicted by weather forecasters days in advance,” said Gray. “We had at least one incident that required everyone on duty. You can’t depend on mutual aid when the entire region is being hit by storm related emergency conditions.”

Since the manpower cuts began 3 years ago, the fire department has been regularly running 3 man fire engines, which is below the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard of 4 firefighters and an officer. This results in a safety hazard for both civilians and firefighters.

According to a landmark study conducted in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) found that four-person firefighting crews were able to complete 22 essential firefighting and rescue tasks in a typical residential structure 25 percent faster than three-person crews.

Further due to the department’s short staffing the city’s $1 million fire-rescue unit sits idle.

“While firefighters are protecting the city significantly are understaffed it presents great challenges and risks that can be the difference between life and death in a city that houses three college campuses, numerous high rise buildings and two major highways, I-95 and the Hutchison River Parkway.”

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4 thoughts on “New Rochelle’s Bravest You Can Always Count on Them!”

  1. Firefighters
    You guys are the best and deserve all the support the community can muster. Anyone who doubts this shoukld remember 9.11 and if you need an image to remind you, the picture of the lonely engine rushing to the holocaust on the Brooklyn Bridge is an indelible image. I was working in the South Tower with Atlantic Bank and we move just months before back to our permanent location opposite Macys. While there I was the staff fire warden for the offices on the final bank of elevators (98 -106). Many friends from other organizations like AON, Fuji Bank, etc. died that day. But, many firefighters died trying to reach them and others.

    You cannot pay men and women that do this work or those who patrol our streets enough. We should not sit idly when engine complement is weakened.

    Would the firefighter who posted this keep us posted about Kevin Thomas. I know Kevin and was a sub teacher at Isaac Young and Trinity and remember how excited he as to be able to join the force after his stint as a school safety officer. He is a great guy and it hurts to hear he was injured.

    Best always and God Bless.

    1. Well Said Warren
      Warren, you echo my feelings exactly.If there is one Department in this city that was always run professionally it was the FD.I have had the good fortune to need their assistance a few times in the last 20 years and they were professional,polite and also compassionate.I know a few of the guys and believe me,some of the stuff they do go completly unnoticed,and thats ok with them.They are dedicated public servants and they need all our support.These guys ride short every day,and are asked to do more and more.They are treated with complete disrespect by our leaders(except a few) and are taken for granted day after day.If anything ever happens to any of these guys while violating any safety rules due to low staffing,I will take the case for free and see to it all responsible parties pay.I pray for your recovery Firefighter Thomas and hope for your speedy complete recovery.I will do what I can do by supporting your endorsed candidates.You have a big fan in me and my family.thanks for your continued service.

  2. The City will turn it’s back on you, you can count on it…
    Sorry to hear that a firefighter was injured but get used to doing even more with even less. Watch out. The City takes a calculated and systematic approach to limiting your medical treatment. They will deny needed treatment, delay payment to your physicians and prematurely end your benefits. The City has effectively gone Doctor shopping and found a hired gun/”physician” that will cut off your care stating that you are better or that your injury doesn’t exist. The City has turned this noble profession into just another job, so my friends, treat it as such. Do what you have to do but no more, don’t do anything that could get you even the slightest bit injured because they will screw you. Remember they could care less about you, you know it is true you have seen itt time and time again. Stand up and fight or be beaten down, the choice is yours…

  3. Four man engines save lives!
    Several years ago when riding with a fourth man was a luxury(do to shortages in man power), I was assigned to Engine 24 located on Drake Ave as that “fourth man”. A pre-Christmas fire broke out in an apartment building on the 700 block of Pelham Rd shortly after 5am. Although the fire was small, the smoke condition that existed was substantial. In spite of the efforts of the initial search team, no occupants of the apartment were discovered. I conducted a secondary search (although it wasn’t my primary assignment) and found an elderly woman lying on the floor unresponsive. With the help of a fellow Firefighter we carried the woman to safety and initiated CPR where she was later revived.

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