YONKERS, N.Y. – The Fire Department of New York joined forces with 120 Westchester firefighters Friday for a joint emergency response exercise at Randall’s Island in the midst of a cold and cloudy downpour.
The joint exercise was part of the New York State Fire Mobilization and Mutual Aid Plan, under which fire departments provide reciprocal assistance to one another in emergencies.
The exercise began Friday morning with a mobilization 10 Westchester fire departments, including Eastchester, New Rochelle, Scarsdale, White Plains and Yonkers, at the Yonkers Raceway/Empire City Casino. The departments then responded to the FDNY training facility on Randall’s Island, where they were joined by New York City firefighters. They conducted joint firefighting drills at low-rise and high-rise fire structures, in addition to dealing with live fires.
The exercise is to make sure that all the agencies are able to work smoothly together in case of an emergency, said David Dronzek, assistant fire chief in Yonkers.
“A big part of the drill was so the Westchester fire chiefs can learn to coordinate with each other and with the FDNY in case something big happens and everyone needs to work together,” Dronzek said. “When 9/11 happened it was chaotic, because everybody just independently ran to the scene without a plan and a way to communicate with each other.”
Joint training exercises are taken very seriously among firefighters, Dronzek said.
“I can’t stress how important training days like this are,” he said. “Sometime down the road there will probably be a catastrophe, or even a terrorist attack, that will require many agencies to work together as one. When it’s something serious like that, there’s not a lot of room for error.”
Firefighters don’t think about things like rain, snow or temperature when they’re on the job, said Thomas Farrar, a Yonkers firefighter.
“Today isn't too different from any other day where we’re just out there training,” he said. “Today was just a good experience to see who goes where and how people from different departments can work together to help save lives.
“If we’re going to run into a burning building, we’re going to do it the same whether it’s training or it’s real life. We’re just doing our job the best we can.”