Category Archives: Special Call

Rules for Covering-In

Different places might call it different things, but here when one company is called to respond for another, it is called Covering-In. Our dispatch system already knows who will cover for who depending on the severity of the incident. Most commonly used when greater alarm fires are transmitted, this system puts companies into the effected area to maintain basic coverage.

We are dispatched as follows: “This is a directed cover for Engine 99 to the quarters of Engine 77, Engine 99 you are now first due in place of Engine 77.” And we head over to Station 77.

There are rules you should follow when covering-in.

1. Get the map book from the office and put it on your rig, after looking it over. Maybe you’re lucky enough to come from a nearby area and know the neighborhood you’re covering, but if not, become best friends with that book if you’re the driver.

2. Cover the food. If they were in the middle of a meal when the bells rang, cover their plates and tend to the food left out. Do not eat the food, they’re expecting it to be there when they return, so go out and get your own food.

3. Make up a hose pack. If your department has a standard strapped hose load, make a new one so the company can go back in service faster when they return. Make it up or ensure there is enough line to restock their pre-connects and get it ready.

4. Don’t sleep in their beds. If you’re stuck there overnight, you get to sleep in a chair. Do you want some stranger sleeping in your bunk? Didn’t think so.

5. Secure the house and the yard. Make sure all the doors are closed and locked (and that you can get back in) and cars in the lot are secure. Goodness only knows what they were doing when the call came in.

6. Make a fresh pot of coffee. Also check for bottled water and put some in the fridge.

7. Post a night watch. This person will be pre-selected to answer the phone, front door and monitor the radio to wake the crew when the home company is returning. That way they return to lights on, fresh coffee and extra hands to help get back in service.

8. Check the washing machine and dishwasher. Do basic chores to make less work for your co-workers when they return, likely exhausted.

9. Keep a log of any supplies you use while gone, from coffee to medical supplies.

10. Before leaving, make sure there is nothing else you can do for that company including chores, dishes, cooking, anything. Pay it forward. Do onto others, etc etc.

Battalion 1 to Manhattan

Radioed by FDNY Battalion Chief Matthew Ryan at 8:46 AM local time:

“A plane has crashed into the trade center. Transmit a second alarm and start sending additional companies into the area.”

Less than 20 minutes later, FDNY Chaplain Mychal Judge, bottle of holy water in hand, entered the debris to tend to firefighter Danny Suhr, who had been killed by a body falling from the tower. When Father Judge removed his helmet to administer to the fallen firefighter, he was struck and killed by falling debris.

He was found by five men who carried the fallen Father 2 city blocks, placing his body in front of the altar of St Peter’s Church. He was covered with a white sheet and his priest’s stole, then his helmet and badge were placed on his chest.


This is an image that will remain with me for the rest of my days. The respect shown by these 5 men who took a fallen brother home stops me in my tracks every time I imagine myself seeking solace in that church on Barclay street. The doors bursting open and these five men carrying a lifeless body to the alter, showing their respects, then returning to help others. I was not there, but I can imagine the raw emotion.

Father Judge was later moved to Engine 1, where his car was housed.

Hidden in all the “Never Forget” and “343” stickers and T-shirts are thousands of tales of heroism and bravery, brotherhood and citizenship. Learn one. Pass it along to others.

Father Mychal Judge was later declared official fatality #00001.

Mychal Judge

Chaplain, FDNY
May 11, 1933 – September 11, 2001

Is that a fire engine or a fire truck?

In response to my Sunday Fun about marking your gear, I received comments from across the pond asking the difference between our different units in the US, since I mentioned the need to tell us apart based on task.

So for my UK friends, and maybe my few readers not in the business, I give you the American Fire Department 101.

The Engine Company

The work horse of the American Fire Service is the Engine Company. Originally hand pulled pumps, then steam engines, these machines supply the water for the fire fight. The Engine Company carries three main elements that make it a stand alone team. A Pump, a tank and hose. The tank is often 500-1000 gallons, depending on the reliability of water supplies and can, if need be, draw water (draft) from a static source such as a pool or lake. The pump moves the water through the manifold and out one of many outlets to fight the fire. I can’t imagine this being much different than the UK Brigade units.

In some municipalities, the engines also offer EMS response at the Basic and Paramedic level as well as extrication using multiple power tools.

At a fire the engine company will usually arrive first, do their best to secure a water supply, deploy lines, find the seat of the fire and knock it down. Even though their mission may include other tasks, this is their main purpose, water on the fire.

“God Bless the Engine”


The Truck or Ladder Company
AKA the Hook and Ladder Company

The Truck Company has a completely separate set of tasks to accomplish at a fire or emergency scene. The truck, or ladder, carries, you guessed it, a variety of ladders and tools designed to gain access to the fire building for two main reasons, ventilation and search.

The truck company is often second or third to arrive at a fire and prefers to have access to the front in case the large ladder is needed. Although Happy prefers a 100 foot articulated ladder truck (with a driver in the rear to provide maximum maneuverability) ladders can also have buckets on the end, making them a different tool entirely.

Truck members will focus on ventilating the building of heat and poisonous gasses by opening windows and cutting holes in the roof they gained access to using their wide variety of ladders. These folks do not concern themselves with fighting the fire, that is not their job. If I am on an engine, shooting water on the fire, they are working above me cutting the roof, or behind me using thier hooks to pull the ceiling down to check for fire spread. Without them the fire could work it’s way back over our heads and emerge behind us, cutting off our escape.

Very rarely does a ladder truck carry water, and even then it is a small amount compared to the engine companies. The mission of these firefighters is not to fight fire directly, but to aid in the containment and ability of firefighters to attack the fire effectively.

At non fire scenes truck companies often provide forcible entry, advanced extrication, rope rescues and similar tasks, not to mention they are my heroes when a fire sprinkler needs to be shut down and replaced.


“God Save the Truck”


The Medic Van
The Paramedic units can, of course, treat and transport the sick and injured, but in a fire or rescue scenario are trained and equipped to fit into most roles on the fire ground from the hose line from the engine, or the saw on the truck, or harnessed up to go over the edge with the rescue squad to execute a rescue. This is the most versatile crew in the service today, and my favorite spot I might add. You can go from transporting a skinned knee and hate your job one minute, to carrying a person down a flight of stairs at a fire the next. Ok not that fast, but you get the idea.
And intubating with an airpack on…not as hard as it looks, but no reason not to gear down first.

“God help the medics”

The Squad

A squad in the US can mean a number of things. It can range from a Paramedic pickup truck as in the Emergency! TV series. It has been known to identify any team of firefighters not assigned to a pumper engine or ladder truck. A squad in the FDNY is a specialized team that can perform duties above a regular engine company. But for the purposes of Happy Medic Headquarters, a squad refers to the big boys, the HEAVY RESCUE SQUAD, the heroes, the Gods of the Fire Service. No really, just ask them.
Although the training, equipment and abilities of each rescue squad is unique, they are most certainly armed to the teeth for their standard responses and whatever else might get thrown their way. This is who responds for building collapses, swift water rescue, dive emergencies, you name it, chances are they drilled on it this week. Some units carry ice rescue gear, while the heavy rescue squads in San Diego, California likely fill that spot with something surf related. They carry heavy lifting bags, SCUBA gear, confined space and haz-mat suits, high and low angle rope kits, etc, etc, etc. A giant rolling tool box. These are the men who will go where I will not and hand me a (most often) viable patient. Or completely disregard my presence.

“God is the Squad”

The Quint


This hybrid combination (bastard) of the service is a politician’s dream and a firefighter’s nightmare. On paper it combines a 4 man truck company and a 3 man engine company into a 4 man quint company. But now that we know the engine and truck have COMPLETELY different tasks on the fire ground, this is just silly. Besides, you had to shorten the ladder to fit it on my engine frame and all the ladder hardware, the jacks, hydrolics, extra beefy frame, leave less room for an adequate water tank to fight the fire.
I used to serve on one of these and my verdict is: You’re fooling yourself. A 60 foot elevated master stream with a framed box ladder does not a truck company make you. Ahem…

The Ambulance
Not to be left out in describing the American Fire Service is the role of private ambulance companies. While not technically part of the service, they work hand in hand with responders to provide treatment and transport either as the sole carrier or to augment an existing, but not quite adequate municipal system. They are a needed piece of the puzzle in the American model. Some places they thrive, others they struggle, but where I am they do a great job picking up the slack from a devastated budget that cut EMS first.

So there you have it my UK friends, a brief introduction to that which is the American Fire Service. Perhaps when MedicBlog999 gets back from his engine ride along he can explain it in more detail. Graphs and charts perhaps.

We have a plane in the water!

US Airways flight 1549 averted disaster in January of 2009.

Amidst all the news coverage of this event was little about the nuts and bolts of the emergency response and understandably so.
I was glad to get this dialogue emailed to me earlier today and it opened my eyes to the difficulties of an evolving, and moving, major incident. This is long, but is a great learning tool for anyone taking ICS 400 or above.

I tried to confirm this information and came across some great pics and account of the rescues at the Bravest including the above pic.
A number of audio versions of this information are on youtube.

Location: Hudson River @ W50 st

15:34 hours
Phone Box 868 – Report of a plane in the water
Engs. 54, 34, 65
TL21, L4
Battalions 9
Rescue 1
Squad 18
Tactical Support 1
Marine 1 Alpha

15:35 hours
Also receiving reports of plane in the water @ Hudson River @ W83 st.
Multiple calls received in the Bronx reporting a plane with engine fire.
Queens in contact with LGA tower reporting a plane with a bird into the
engine.
E76, TL22 assigned to W83 st

15:36 hours
Rescue 1 to Manhattan, urgent! Plane in the water with people out, we’re
launching our boat!
E23 available assigned in

15:37 hours
Rescue Battalion: Start a second rescue.
Rescue 4 S/C

15:37 hours
Battalion 9: Have all units respond to the Intrepid, that’s where Rescue 1
is.

10-60-868 – 15:38 hours
Battalion 9 to Manhattan, Urgent! According to PD we have a major airl
iner in the water, possibly a 707, give me a 10-60!

FYI-

10-60 Major emergency (Bldg collapse, train wreck, Etc.) 8 Engines,
5 Ladders (one being the FAST Unit), 6 Battalion Chiefs (3rd due
chief is Safety Officer; 6th due chief is Resource Unit Leader), 2
Deputy Chiefs, 2 Rescue Companies, 2 Collapse Units, 2 SOC Support
Trucks, SOC logistics van, Squad 1 with is Technical Response
Vehicle, 1 additional Squad, Rescue Battalion, Haz-Mat Battalion,
Safety Battalion, Field Communications Unit, Satellite Unit with its
associated Engine, RAC Unit, and a Mobile Command Center). Also, a
Battalion responds and meets NYPD Aviation to provide Air Recon.

Engs. 8, 21, 40, 16
E9 w/ Satellite 1
E93 w/ Mobile Command Center 2
L2, L16
TL35 is the FAST truck
L25 w/ Collapse Rescue 1
Collapse Rescue 4
TL7 (SOC Support Truck)
TL1 (SOC Support Truck)
Battalions 10. 11
Battalion 6 (Safety Officer)
Battalion 8 (Resource Unit Leader)
Battalion 4 (Planning Sections Chief)
Battalion 58 (Air-Recon Chief)
HazMat, Safety, Marine Battalions
Squad 1 w/ TRV
HazMat 1
SOC Logistics
SOC Compressor
Divisions 1, 3
Marines 1, 6
FieldCom
Command Tactical Unit
RAC1

15:38 hours
TL21 to Manhattan, Urgent! The location of the plane is 43 and West Side!

15:39 hours
Marine 1 to Manhattan, this is confirmed! You have a commercial airliner
in the water, 2 ferries alongside, Marine 1A is pulling up alongside,
Marine 1 is responding as well.

15:40 hours
BC9 to Manhattan, Urgent! We have a commercial airliner down, ha ve all
units respond to Circle Line Piers, we have people on the wings, we have a
Circle Line Boat pushing it to the pier.

15:42 hours
BC9: We’re going to use the Command Post at the end of Pier 83

15:43 hours
Division 1: Have All-Units respond into 42 st, Pier 81.

15:44 hours
Marine 1: Tide is moving downtown.

15:46 hours
DC1: At this time, we have an FD command post set up at Pier 81 opposite
41 and 12th. We have a US Airway Jet, approximately 60 passenger Jet, we
have Circle Line ferries circling the plane, it is drifting south at this
time, right now south of 41st and 12th.

15:46 hours
DC1 to Manhattan, Urgent! I want all the Marine Units responding on this
incident! At this time we have numerous people on the wings on the plane,
we have numerous Circle Line ferries surrounding the plane, FD units are
jumping on additional ferries.
Marine 9 w/ Rescue 5, E153, TL77, Battalion 21 S/C

15:47 hours
DC1: Have Division 3 s et up a secondary command post at the tip of Pier
76 (W36 st)

15:48 hours
Car 4A (AC Robert Sweeney, Assistant Chief of Operations) is responding.

15:49 hours
DC1: We want FD units to respond to Pier 76, all command units respond to
Pier 81

15:50 hours
Battalion 6 is 10-84, already designated the Resource Unit Leader,
Battalion 8 re-designated the Safety Officer.

15:51 hours
DC1: We want a Major EMS response to both Piers. First boat loaded with
passengers is heading to Pier 81. We have reports of 146 passengers on the
plane.

15:52 hours
Coast Gaurd reports 4 ferries and 1 cutter en-route

15:53 hours
Car 4A: Notify Division 1 as per FDOC there are 146 Passengers and 5 crew,
total of 151.

15:54 hours
E14: Notify Division 1 we’re at the 33st Heliport, they’re directly
opposite us now, it’s a perfect place to land boats.
E14 assigned

15:56 hours
Car 9 (DAC John Sudnik, Queens Borough Commander) is respo nding to DC3
command post
Car 11(DAC William Siegel, Chief of SOC) is responding

15:59 hours
L10 acting 24, as per Division 3, we’ll be operating at W33 at the
Heliport
Battalion 1 acting 9 S/C to the 30th street Heliport
E1 S/C to 30th street Heliport

16:00 hours
Rescue 3 is relocating to Rescue 1

16:03 hours
L25 w/ Collapse Rescue 1 is responding to 41 and 12th
L116 w/ Collapse Rescue 4 is responding to Pier 76

16:03 hours
DC1: Have all Chief officers switch over to command channel 2.

16:03 hours
FDOC reports plane took off with 21800 Gallons of Fuel

16:04 hours
Marine 9 has a 30 minute ETA responding with Rescue 5

16:05 hours
Car 9: Have TL35 respond to with their water gear 41st and 12th, also
special call another FAST truck to 36th and 12th.
Marine 6A is responding
TL22 acting 12 S/C as an additional FAST Truck

16:06 hours
Car 11A (DC William Seelig, Chief of Rescue Operations): W e’re responding
to your 10-60, advise the Chief of Rescue Services the Scuba Support Van
is responding from Fort Totten.

16:09 hours
E9: We’re at 40 and 12th, pier 79, we have approximately 30 people here no
one seriously injured, if we can get some blankets over, everyone’s
soaking wet.

16:10 hours
Car 12 (BC Stephen Raynis (Acting), Chief of Safety and Inspectional
Services) is responding

16:11 hours
The staging area is W42 st and 11 ave

16:13 hours
Marine Battalion: Marine 1 and Marine 6 have lashed the plane to ensure
the remaining fuel and engine do not break away, notify Coast Guard.

16:13 hours
Car 12A (Executive Officer of Safety and Inspectional Services) is 10-84

16:15 hours
Car 11A: Have the SOC Scuba Van respond to 42 and 12th

16:15 hours
SOC Scuba Support Van: Be advised we have 5 confirmed divers on board at
this moment.

16:18 hours
BC1 acting 9: We’re at the Chelsea Pier. We’re with Divis ion 1, we’re at
the end of the Chelsea Pier at the Command Post at Pier 61

16:20 hours
FieldCom: As per DC1, the pilot stated he got all the people off the plane
onto the wings, and the pilot was dropped off at Pier 76. At this time we
are attempting to ascertain the number of people and injuries. As per the
pilot there is noone left on the plane.
BC1/9: There is noone operating at the heliport, the plane has drifted
south of that area.

16:21 hours
FC: Have the Planning Unit respond to W41 st and 12th
IMT Planning Vehicle is responding
L116 (Rescue Collapse 4 support) is responding.

16:23 hours
Battalion 58 is airborne with a 5 minute ETA

16L23 hours
DC1: Be advised Division 1’s command post is now at Pier 61 (23 st @ West
Side Highway)

16:24 hours
Division 6 is relocating to Division 3

16:27 hours
Manhattan requesting a rundown of which company is at which location

16:26 hours
DC3: At this time at Pier 76, I have TL22, he’ll be appointed contact at
this time.

16:27 hours
DC1: I need an EMS supervisor to assist me at Pier 61

16:28 hours
Rundown for Pier 76: W36th st and 12th ave
TL22
Collapse Rescue 4

16:28 hours
Marine 9 gives a 20 minute ETA.

16:35 hours
DC1: We are still waiting for an EMS Supervisor at Pier 61.

16:40 hours
E9 is at the Waterway Building (W48 st) with approximately 54 passengers,
2 were taken to the hospital.

16:43 hours
Marine 9 is 10-84.

16:45 hours
Nassau PD and Jersey City PD reports each has a helicopter at the 30th st
heliport.

16:49 hours
PD is requesting a representative at W34 and 12th ave

16:49 hours
FC: Assign another battalion chief, we’re moving our command post, it’s
heading south.
Battalion 46 acting 7 S/C as “PD Liaison”
Battalion 14 acting 8 S/C as Staging Manager

16:57 hours
E1 is 10-8

16:59 hours
BC1/9: We’re being directe d with TL1 to respond to Pier A.

17:10 hours
As per news report from US Airways:
Latest reports are that US Airways Flight 1549, an Airbus A320, flew into
a bird or flock of birds and lost both engines shortly after takeoff from
LaGuardia Aiport over the Bronx while en-route to Charlotte, NC. The pilot
was unable to return to the airfield and instead managed to successfully
crash-land in the river. All passengers are reportedly accounted for.
Majority of injuries are hypothermia-related.

17:14 hours
DC3: Get in contact with Mobile Command, have them respond to Battery Park
Pier, we have the plane tied off now. Can we also get 2 engine companies
down here, we need them to stretch 2 foam lines, we’re at north of Murray
St, right at the pier.
Engs. 205 acting 10, 7 S/C

17:17 hours
DC1: At Pier 81, we have Battalion 8 and 2 engines committed there. We
have no units left at Pier 76, have Collapse Rescue 4 take up from there
and head down to Battery Pa rk City.

17:19 hours
L25/Collapse Rescue 1 are 10-8.
Battalion 58 is returning to Brooklyn.

17:24 hours
Battalion 8: We have 14 passengers remaining at this location (Pier 81)
that require transportation back to LaGuardia. We had 20 passengers, 6
transported by EMS.

17:26 hours
Car 9: Have E205 go to Battery Park City and just go to the water, they’ll
see us there.

17:28 hours
Car 9: The aircraft has been secured, it’s being secured to the sea wall
opposite Battery Park City, 2 precautionary handlines are being stretched.
Division 3 will be radio contact, Car 11 will be Incident Commander

10-86-868 – 17:33 hours
DC3: Transmit a 10-86 (Fleuroprotein Foam Operation), we’re going to need
some more foam units down here.
E5 w/ Foam 5
E95 w/ Foam 95
E238 w/ Foam Tender 1
Battalion 31 (Foam Coordinator)

17:33 hours
DC1: I want all agencies to respond to River Terrace off of Warren St on
the water.

17:44 hour s
The NTSB advises that no FD members are to enter the plane.

17:49 hours
FC: Have an EMS Supervisor respond to Murray and River View Terrace.

17:52 hours
E9: Advise all units coming in on the 10-86 to come in on Warren as close
as they can to the water.

17:52 hours
At this time, as per news conference with the mayor, victim tracking is
still in progress. It is believed that all passengers got out and were
picked up by a variety of Circle Line, FD, PD, USCG, and civilian vessels.
It is believe that most were recovered to Manhattan, with some to New
Jersey.

18:04 hours
Battalion 10: Could you 10-10 (get location of) L16, I have one of their
members.

18:08 hours
E238: Have an ambulance respond to Murray and West St, we have an injured
member!

Currently Operating @ Battery Park City:
Engs. 7, 205 acting 10
E9 w/ Satellite 1
E5 w/ Foam 5
E95 w/ Foam 95
E238 w/ Foam Tender 1
Battalions 9, 10
Battalion 31 (F oam Coordinator)
Divisions 1, 3
Rescues 1, 4
Squad 1
Marines 1, 6, 9
Tactical Support 1
FieldCom
Mobile Command Center 2

Currently Operating elsewhere:
E34
TL7
Battalion 8