New Rochelle Fire Fighters Speak of Pain, Suffering & Dangers of Fires

Written By: Talk of the Sound News

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Fire fighters in the City of New Rochelle are releasing a video project to help educate and inform residents of the Queen City of the Sound about the unique and dangerous conditions in modern fires. The project utilizes fire safety testing results produced by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the scientific arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce and interviews with local firefighters.

The initial series of seven videos are all under 3 ½ minutes and are available on Facebook/YouTube. Above is the first one in the series.

FF. Byron Gray, in his 27th year with New Rochelle Fire Department (NRFD), said the project was undertaken “to allow the community a closer understanding of how the city’s professional fire fighters work and their dedication to the community we are sworn to protect.” FF. Gray is president of the New Rochelle Uniformed Fire Fighters Association (UFFA).

“Most citizens never anticipate having a fire in their home. For New Rochelle citizens to truly understand the grave risk fire presents to their families we wanted to offer a snapshot into the reality and show the significant physical beating the job takes on the fire fighters who protect and keep our city safe,” Gray a 50 year resident of New Rochelle said.

FF Gray added, “Our goal is to connect with New Rochelle’s younger generation who get their news and information on line.”

· In one video “Why Seconds Count when Fighting Fires” Gray explains how rapidly fires ignite today, as compared to 20 years ago, because modern furnishings and construction materials, commonly made with synthetics/petroleum products burn hotter, faster and more toxic. “All of the contents (of a home) – the rugs, the furniture, lighting fixtures – they all burn at a higher degree temperature than they used to and they give off much more toxic gases and smoke,” he says in the video.

· In another video, “The Life of a Deadly Fire,” produced by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the scientific arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce, a narrator explains how a fire can grow from inception to reaching 2,000°F in just a matter of minutes.

· In “New Rochelle UFFA explains the burden of saving lives,” FF’s Gray, Fred Taylor Jr. and Joe Narcisso discuss the physicality of fighting fires. Firefighters explain the rapid exhaustion and toll on fire fighters’ bodies each time they must rush into buildings carrying up to 130 pounds of rescue tools and necessary safety gear, even before conducting firefighting operations.

· Factors contributing to a high national incidence of heart attacks in fire fighters are closely examined in “Physical Demands of Being a New Rochelle Fire Fighter,” including the extreme physical exertion of the job and the unavoidable inhalation of toxic smoke.
Firefighters appearing in additional videos telling of their personal experiences include:

· FF. Fred Taylor Jr, a 23 year veteran, tells when the floor of a Bayard St. building on fire collapsed from under him. Were it not for a floor joist catching his fall, Taylor would have plummeted into the basement of the building. FF Taylor suffered a tear of the medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his knee, requiring surgery and months of difficult rehabilitation.

· Toxic smoke got to FF. Joe Narcisso, a 27 year veteran, while fighting a fire during extreme winter weather conditions that froze his air masks shut, requiring him to be treated for lung damage in a hyperbaric chamber. While the specially pressurized medical chamber (AKA iron lung) was expected to help recovery from fighting this Main St. fire, it ruptured his left eardrum, significantly reducing his hearing for months.

· FF. Bill Samoes, a five year New Rochelle firefighter, tells how the tibia and fibula of his left leg snapped when a hose line tore away from a fire hydrant after a moving fire engine bottomed out on a hill, snagged the line and ripped it and its metal couplings away from the hydrant connection, whipping it into Samoes’ leg and sending him sailing several feet into the air. The fire fighter recounts the horrible and life altering event.

“The job we do is very dangerous. When we save a life or protect a family’s home from greater damage, it is also very fulfilling. Being a firefighter means being willing to put your life on the line to protect the citizens of this city,” said FF. Gray. “It’s a city that’s changing, evolving and growing. In the last decade, New Rochelle has seen a dramatic increase in the construction of high rises – high density, vertical neighborhoods — which present new and unique challenges to an already undermanned fire department. While fire fighters train to be prepared for any possible emergency, we also want citizens to turn to use as a source of information that might help save lives.”

The complete set of videos can be found on Facebook or YouTube.