Alright FDNY, you’re cool too

This one from the illustrious Daily News:

FDNY scuba-diving team battled fire at Hudson River pier from the waters below

BY Jonathan Lemire

Thursday, September 9th 2010, 4:00 AM

Firefighters Mike Cioffi and Frank Rush of Rescue 1 don scuba gear and work to extinguish a pier fire on 57 st and 12 Ave Wednesday.

As the inferno raged on a Hudson River pier, it spewed smoke that could be seen for miles and wind-blown flames that seared dangerously close to a nearby fuel depot.

While fire engines struggled to set up hose lines to battle the blaze from the shore, an elite FDNY team took a different approach – and fought the fire from the river below.

“The fire was underneath the pier and into the wood that was holding the whole thing up,” said Frank Rush, one of Rescue 1’s lead scuba divers.

“It a dangerous situation – and we knew we could only reach it by getting in the water.”

The FDNY’s scuba divers – who are stationed in all five boroughs – are trained for all nature of nautical emergencies, from searching murky waters for a struggling swimmer to evacuating a burning oil tanker.

The crucial role they play within the FDNY came to light again Saturday when the Sanitation Department’s Pier 97 burst into flames and threatened both a Con Ed fuel storage facility and busy 12th Ave.

The fire tore through much of the pier, destroyed several sanitation trailers and was eating into the 900-foot-long structure’s wooden supports when the highly trained Rescue 1 arrived.

Rush, a 25-year veteran, donned a drysuit and dove into the dark waters, swimming furiously toward the flames. The air tank on his back providing up to 40 minutes of oxygen, Rush swam with a hose from the Marine Unit’s small speedboat and began to shoot water at the flames.

Meanwhile, other members of Rescue 1 used a power saw to cut a trench into the pier, carving out the wood that the flames were using as fuel – and stopped the blaze in its tracks.

“If the flames had gone much further they would have eaten up a storage trailer and maybe destroyed the entire pier,” said Firefighter Michael Cioffi, a 15-year veteran. “We got it just in time.”

Rescue 1, which is housed on W. 43rd St., made 210 scuba runs in 2009 and are on a similar pace this year thanks to a summer of record heat filled with boating accidents and careless swimmers.

The unit also searched the partially-submerged US Airways Flight 1549 after the plane splash-landed in the frigid Hudson last year.


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