The FDNY should train disaster response teams in other cities, given its stellar performance in hurricane-battered New Orleans, says Rep. Peter King.
“The FDNY asserted themselves in a positive way and did take control,” said King, (R-L.I.), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.
He said the department’s special disaster teams’ performance set a nationwide standard for managing urban catastrophes, and he plans to call several FDNY chiefs to testify at congressional hearings into the federal response to Hurricane Katrina.
King and John Schulte, disaster and emergency operations specialist for the U.S. Forest Service, want the FDNY to train other major cities’ firefighters.
Schulte said the FDNY teams have an expertise in urban firefighting and haz-mat emergencies that his wildland fire teams lack.
“If we get asked to go to a major bio-chem event, we’ll be looking to bring New York in to help us because they have bio-chem specialists,” he said.
The FDNY’s special disaster teams were first activated last summer in the management of thousands of firefighters battling Western blazes.
They were called up again when Hurricane Katrina struck. The last of the FDNY teams left the flooded city yesterday.
“They did an outstanding job. They commanded things in New Orleans,” Schulte said.
King has met with several top FDNY commanders, including Chief of Department Peter Hayden and Deputy Chief Bob Maynes, the training coordinator for the Incident Management Teams who spent two weeks in New Orleans.
“The FDNY teams were ready to go … but were not deployed for another four or five days after,” King said. “The city could have burned down, there was a real danger there.”
The chiefs told him there was not enough police protection on fire runs, no one with authority to purchase equipment for them, and little food, water or power.
“The good, the bad and the ugly will come out at the hearings,” King said. “The positive story should get out of what did go right down there. These guys did a terrific job.”