Fire Stories

Fire stories from the national parks highlight events, incidents, and the like, associated with fire and fuels management, as well as fire education, technology, partnerships, and more. Stories highlight work related to Department of the Interior initiatives as well as local and regional initiatives.

New York city fire training.

FDNY and NPS Train Together

Gateway National Recreation Area
National Fire Plan, Firefighting*

On November 17, 2010, history was made when National Park Service firefighters were invited to participate in the 2010 New York City Fire Department Battalion Chief training class. NPS members included Tim Regan, Gateway National Recreation Area Fire Chief and Tomas Liogys, Prescribed Fire & Fuels Technician from Delaware Water Gap. The five hour block of training began at 7:00 AM at the “The Rock,” the FDNY training Academy on Randall’s Island. The NPS duo discussed wildland fire management operations and specialized equipment in conjunction with the city fire department’s program. Topics included, wildland tactics, risk versus benefit, urban interface, and the importance of getting up to date fire weather reports.

Tactical scenarios were held and three of the four included NPS parklands. Although each fire develops differently and is influenced by wind, it was stressed that if these blazes are treated as nuisance fires, homes can and have been quickly destroyed in the incredibly fast moving phragmites fires. Safety was at the forefront of the training, and it was highlighted that three FDNY firefighters have been killed in the line of duty since the 1930’s working on brush fires.

Although the park has been informally operating with the FDNY since Gateway was opened in 1974, this year’s large wildfires and urban interface issues have reinvented FDNY and NPS joint fire operations. During the Great Kills Blowup Fire, September 8-17, 2010, NPS firefighters from five units and the USDA Forest Service integrated into the FDNY command structure, operating in strike teams as well as performing structural fire protection in several Staten Island neighborhoods. Gateway fire staff have been issued FDNY radios to ensure that communications are prioritized and interoperability is obtained on their UHF radio frequencies.

Recently NPS firefighters assisted FDNY with a fire in city park property after all three on scene FDNY brush units were committed. Currently the NPS is working closely with the FDNY to assign a fire weather liaison during major wildland incidents and enhance training and equipment with the world’s largest fire department.

As this relationship continues to be fostered by both agencies, each will see benefits in overall fire management operations. The NPS thanks Staten Island Borough Commander Michael Marrone, Brooklyn Borough Commander James Leonard and Battalion Chief John Calderone for their cooperation in providing this opportunity.

Contact: Tim Regan, Gateway National Recreation Area
Phone: (732) 872-5930

*This story supports the Department of the Interior initiatives.