Emergencies along the shoreline are common every summer and this year is no different. Several significant boat accidents have already occurred across the New York region, stressing the importance of waterfront safety and first responder preparedness.
New Rochelle is one of the most popular summertime destinations in Westchester County and its 9.3 mile shoreline is home to parks, shops, restaurants and popular beach clubs. The city also hosts boat brokerage businesses and more than a dozen marinas and docking facilities for 1,500 maritime craft, including several popular charter boats.
The New Rochelle Fire Department, together with the city’s police department, is responsible for responding rapidly to any and all emergencies along the city’s busy stretch of coastline -- both on land and water.
“We respond to calls for heart attacks and serious accidents that occur at the parks, beaches and on boats away from the docks,” said Gray.
In recent weeks, the New Rochelle Fire Department responded a significant boatyard fire, when a 61-foot Hatteras Yacht caught fire in Pelham Manor. Seventeen New Rochelle Fire Fighters were needed to handle the response along with seven Pelham Manor Firefighters. While the fire was contained within one hour, it took several more hours to totally extinguish. The toxicity of fiberglass and resins used to construct boats can make boat fires especially intense.
“Boat docks and marinas operate in very confined spaces and we are ever aware of the threat of gasoline or diesel fuel ignition,” said Byron Gray, president of the New Rochelle Uniformed Fire Fighters Association. “If a fire is not contained rapidly it can spread and do significantly more damage.”
Video of the fire can be viewed here and an interview with New Rochelle Fire Chief Louis DiMeglio who was at the scene:
In April 2011, three dry-docked boats caught fire at the Huguenot Yacht Club. Due to extremely low water pressure from nearby hydrants, firefighters were forced to stretch a fire hose from the corner of Weyman Avenue and Pelham Road over to the Glen Island Bridge.
With the Independence Day holiday fast approaching, the fire fighters are ready. The 105-acre Glen Island Park is the second most used in the Westchester County Parks system, attracting thousands of visitors including boaters, jet skiers, fishermen and families.
“We know that summer recreation along the shoreline of our city is vital to its economy, to retaining and creating jobs and tax revenue. To remain as a top destination for boaters and the marine economy it’s critical we are able to keep the waterfront and the families using it safe and secure,” added Gray.