The North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue will soon have a new elite emergency rescue team that will provide several different aspects of emergency service to the five municipalities that the NHRFR currently serves.
According to Chief Edward Flood, who made the proposal to the NHRFR Management Committee, the Dedicated Technical Rescue Company, as it will be called, will provide highly intricate and detailed forms of rescue, such as building collapse rescue, trench rescue, water surface rescue, confined space rescue, rope/high angle rescue, and vehicle and industrial machine extradition.
In addition to forming the new squad, which will eventually involve 30 to 35 current members of the NHRFR staff, the committee also approved the purchase of a new $400,000 vehicle that will be used for the emergency situations. A new 100-foot aerial ladder vehicle, at a cost of $600,000, will also be purchased, both with capital reserve accounts from money made available with the institution of the NHRFR in 1999.
Flood said that he hopes to have the new department of the squad operating within eight to 10 months.
“Since the regional was put into place, we did a high risk analysis of the entire department,” Flood said. “We did a profile of our members and found that we had many who were already trained in technical rescue and met every one of the requirements established by the National Fire Protection Association. Every one of the five departments had a little bit of what was required, but we didn’t have the proper training or equipment to get the job done the right way.”
Added Flood, “This is a big step for our department. I’m very pleased to see that the mayors and the management committee recognized the need to have this kind of squad. They are committed in bringing the best services to the community.”
Plans are already underway to make the transition. Flood has tabbed North Bergen Battalion Chief Frank Montagne as the Chief of Rescue Services and Montagne will head the new department.
“He will coordinate the application process and the purchase of the necessary equipment,” Flood said. “He will also meet with representatives of New York City and Jersey City, cities that already have technical rescue squads, and get as much information about the types of equipment we will need.”
Of course, the firefighters will receive extensive training in each of the six fields of rescue, as well as intense training how to use the new necessary equipment.
“For the first time, residents of all five towns will be protected by a highly skilled professional rescue team specially trained to handle difficult emergency rescue operations,” said NHRFR Management Committee Chairman Robert Aiello. “This vital new rescue service is another clear benefit of merging the talents and resources of the five former fire departments into one regionalized force.”
Flood said he will form a special screening committee, with union representation, to review resumes from firefighters who want to join the new rescue company. “Firefighters who are chosen to become members of this Technical Rescue Company will be the most highly-skilled and dedicated members of our department,” Flood said. “They will be the best of the best. The training requirements are so strict and the equipment is so intricate that training is necessary. It’s like a surgeon who can get stale if he doesn’t practice or train. It doesn’t make practical sense to train all 307 members and it is impossible to train all of them, so we will have a very elite group.”
NHRFR Co-Director Jeff Welz believes that the application process will be highly competitive.
“I think guys will be willing to do it because they want to help people,” Welz said. “The regional has taken the direction led by Chief Flood, who realized that a department this size should have a technical rescue squad. It’s a tremendous benefit to the entire department. We have always had a lot of talent within the department. We just didn’t have the vehicle to truly utilize the talent.”
NHRFR Co-Director Michael Deorio believes that the members of the regional will applaud the new department. “In talking to a lot of different firefighters, a lot of them are very interested,” Deorio said. “They’re very positive and very enthusiastic. Things have worked out well and I’m very pleased with the way it has been received throughout the rank and file. I haven’t heard a single negative comment. They all realize it is a positive step for our department.”
The NHRFR currently operates with 18 companies, 13 engine companies and five ladder truck companies. When the new rescue company becomes fully operational, it will replace one of the engine companies. Manpower levels will not be impacted because the new Technical Rescue Company personnel will routinely perform truck and ladder duties during fire operations.