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FDNY Gets New Simulator for Maritime Fire Training

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It’s tough enough putting out a fire in an apartment building; try it on a boat. To ramp up its maritime training, the FDNY Department is now using a multi-million dollar simulator. NY1's Mahsa Saeidi filed this report the following report.

With 520 miles of coastline and one of the busiest ports in the country, New York's bravest have to be ready for emergencies on land and water. Officials say a fire on a moving ship is especially challenging, though.

"House fire—you know you got your furniture, your tables, your chairs, kitchen equipment. In a ship, you don't have no idea what you're walking into to," says Lieutenant Robert Englehart, Regional Coordinator of the FDNY Training Academy.

The newest tool that ensures first responders are ready is call Port Security. It’s a four-story, 132 foot-long shipboard simulator that recreates the treacherous conditions aboard a flaming vessel.

Chief of Marine Operations Michael Buckheit helped secure more than $3 million in federal funding.

"We need to understand if we go below the main deck of the ship that we're on a clock, and we have to train accordingly. It's a different layout. It's reduced spaces," says Buckheit.

At the bottom level of the ship in the engine room, a remote ignites the fire with the push of a button, and it can get as hot as 900 degrees.

"This engine room puts out 20 million BTU's per hour so it gets very hot," says Englehart.
"You're very close in here. The fire can go anywhere at any time."

Before this, firefighters had to travel to Florida to train. Now they can practice fighting fires on the main deck, the bridge and the galley of the simulator.

"You can get up here. You can get your crews up here right away, but to actually get the gear—our hoses, our equipment—it takes some time," says Battallion Chief David Bell.

Although it's housed at the department’s training academy, it’s an asset for surrounding city, state and federal agencies in New York and New Jersey.

"I always coin the phrase that great cities were built on accessible harbors, and that's what we are. We're a great city because of our access to the water," Buckheit says.

A tool like this helps ensure that the ports in New York and New Jersey, along with its ships, are protected.

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