Firefighters Prepare to Battle the Ice (Video)
East Brunswick's fire districts honed their ice rescue skills on Sunday.
The sky was clear and the day warm, at least in comparison to much of the past several weeks, and the foot or so of snow lying on a frozen Farrington Lake had begun to turn to slush, making walking on it even more of an adventure than normal.
Out on the lake, near the intersection of Riva Avenue and church Lane, and assembled around a hole chiseled into the 10 inches of ice were 20 firefighters representing each of East Brunswick’s three fire districts. They stood there, in their bright red Neoprene insulated suits watching as two of their “brothers” floated helplessly in the cold, gray water.
But the firefighters didn’t bob for long and under the instruction of Chris Stellatella of ERT Consultants, they were put on rescue boards and pulled out by a team of rescue workers none the worse for wear.
Firefighters from Old Bridge Volunteer Fire Company District 1, East Brunswick Independent Fire Company District 2 and Brookview Volunteer Fire Company District 3 spent the weekend training for ice rescues, something they do at least twice a year, and after a day in the classroom and at an indoor pool on Saturday, the were ready to test the elements Sunday. While the fire departments are each in charge of their own districts, the groups often train together should they ever be called on to respond as a unit.
“Brookview and District 1 have all the water and ice rescue equipment, District 2 has none, but at the same time we have all of them work together, it’s always better to have too many than not enough,” said Brookview Chief Tom Duffy “We need people to know what to do , and God forbid we have a call in the day and we have multiple people from multiple groups. They have to work together.”
With Farrington Lake and Dallenbach in its jurisdiction, Brookview gets the majority of water and ice emergencies. Luckily, those calls don’t happen often. However, with the company so well prepared, it’s often called on by neighboring jurisdictions when needed, and Chief Duffy knows his department needs to be prepared-members must be certified every year or two.
In the past several years the company has been asked to rescue animals-one recently in North Brunswick-and bodies from the water, and with the lake frozen this year and ice fishing becoming a sport of choice, being prepared may make all the difference.
“Never mind certification, it’s just a matter of, for us, we want to be up on it,” said Chief Duffy.