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Long Island

LI firefighters train to aid FDNY companies in emergencies

Michael Uttaro, assistant fire chief of the Nassau

Michael Uttaro, assistant fire chief of the Nassau County Fire Marshal's Office, addresses Long Island firefighters at the Valley Stream Fire Department before a drill with the FDNY on Sunday, June 26, 2016. Credit: Newsday / Scott Eidler

New York City fire officials on Sunday trained their counterparts on Long Island as part of a joint effort that would bring local crews into the city if a major emergency depleted its resources.

FDNY and Long Island fire officials teamed up after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, vowing to better coordinate an emergency response.

Officials from the FDNY and four ladder and four engine companies on Long Island participated in fire drills in Valley Stream. FDNY officers trained the Long Island officers in the city’s procedures.

The city has yet to call on any of the 71 fire departments affiliated with the Nassau County Fire Marshal’s Office since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But training events are still held once or twice a year since 9/11.

“Back when 9/11 happened, there was an outpouring of support,” said Vincent McManus, division supervisor for the county fire marshal. “But there had to be a way to better organize the response.”

Michael Uttaro, assistant chief of the county Fire Marshal’s Office, addressed local fire officials at the headquarters of Valley Stream Fire Department’s Second Company. “We don’t want you going in there lost and not knowing how to operate,” Uttaro said.

The Valley Stream station was referred to as the “staging area,” and officials moved on to several locations in Queens, where they were scheduled to test fire equipment.

Though the program was formed in the wake of a terrorist attack, officials say the training has been retooled to prepare for natural disasters and big weather emergencies.

“It’s not just terrorism that would be a trigger point,” Uttaro said. The Long Island-New York City partnership has expanded to include emergency medical service responders, who attended a similar training event in April.

Rich Sais, chief of the Williston Park Fire Department, said the effort is crucial for his department’s members.

“We can instantaneously pick up the slack for them,” Sais said. “We can go right to their fire departments, plug into their systems — as if we’ve been there forever.”

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