"Dispatch, 583- we have a brush fire at the Proof Battery."
Those were the words on November 4, 2017 which initiated the Interagency Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) drill wihtin the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area, co-hosted with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service, the first of its kind conducted in the park.
The drill was multifaceted with the overall intent of coordinating actiivites among multiple agencies and departments from an initial local response thorugh to an extended attack fire. It drew upon resources from all over the state providing an opportunity to train the NJ Forest Fire Service's IMT, the NJ federal wildfire task force, the Monmouth County WUI task force, and the municipal cooperator strike team with park and local municipal resources.
The day began with a pre-operational briefing to cadre members that would help facilitate the exercise, and was followed by an operational briefing to all participants focusing on assignments, the confine and contain strategy to be utilized in the park due ot hte seemingly ubiquitous unexploded ordnance (UXO) attributable to the park's history as a former proving ground and military post, and procedures to utilize in the event of an actual incident within the exercise.
The drill commenced with a fire report from park LE staff and evolved at intervals to an ever expanding more complex operation. Participants got to practice engine operations, refilling and drafting form portable water tanks, strutcure triage and protection, while discussing tactics, procedures and hazards within each division.
Expectedly, communication among all the participants proved to be a challenge and highlighted the need to identify tactical frequencies accessible to all participants during pre-session meetings, but overall the exercise was deemed a success.
The drill brought together over 100 personnel from the following participants:
DOD Naval Weapons Station Earle (Station 94)
DOD Picatinny Arsenal Fire Department
FWS Walkill NWR
NPS Gateway NRA
NJ Air National Guard 177th Fire Department (Atlantic City)
NJ Forest Fire Service
Monmouth County Highway Department (Station 76)
Monmouth County Sheriff
Local (Monmouth County)
Atlantic Highlands Fire Department Fire Police (Station 85-1)
Belford Engine Company (Station 31-3)
Colts Neck Fire Department Fire Police (Station 84-1)
Community Fire Department (Station 31-4)
East Keansburg Fire Department (Station 34-5)
Eatontown Fire Department Fire Police (Station 11-1)
Highlands Fire Department (Station 17-1)
Highlands Fire Department Fire Police (Station 17-1)
Highlands First Aid Squad (Station 17-21)
Little Silver Fire Department Fire Police (Station 23-1)
Northside Engine Company (Station 36-1)
Navesink Hook & Ladder Company (Station 31-1)
Sea Bright FIre Department (Station 43-1)
Tinton Falls Fire Company (Station 36-1)
Local (Middlesex County)
Helmetta Fire Department (Station 36)
Manitou Fire Company (Station 18)
Pinewald Pioneer Fire Company (Station 20)
Local (Ocean County)
Herbertsville Fire Company (Station 24)