SARANAC LAKE - Teams of local firefighters from across Franklin County headed downstate Tuesday to help communities in the New York City area that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy Monday.
The county sent crews of two from each of the following departments: Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake, Malone, Constable, Bangor and Hogansburg, said county Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost.
Provost said the mission orders are for 72 hours, so the crews will likely be there for that long, plus their travel time.
A caravan of fire department trucks from across Franklin County travels down Broadway in Saranac Lake Tuesday afternoon on its way to Nassau County to assist in the response to Monday’s storm.
(Photo — Eva Stinson)
Each of the Storm Emergency Fire Units brought a brush truck or four-wheel drive pickup with a checklist of equipment, including a chainsaw, portable pumps, a carbon monoxide detector and a few fire extinguishers.
"Just basic stuff so they can go down and pump basements and if they need to assist in firefighting activities, they can," Provost told the Enterprise in a phone interview this morning. "Just support, basically."
Provost said the six crews drove in a caravan to Nassau County Tuesday, stopping for a bit because one of the trucks blew a tire. They were given a few hours to nap on cots; then each crew was assigned to help a department in the hard-hit Long Island county.
The crews stayed in contact with the Franklin County dispatch center through the night, and the county has cell phone contact information for each of them, Provost said.
Royce Cole and Nick Rolley, the firefighters from Tupper Lake, were assigned to Freeport, a town on the south shore of Long Island that was among the hardest hit, according to a story Monday evening on Newsday's website. Hurricane Sandy-related fires, flooding and burglary top the Freeport section of the news organization's site.
Saranac Lake Fire Chief Brendan Keough said two firefighters from his department, Second Assistant Chief Jim Stinson and Fire Captain Shawn White, left the village in the department's pickup truck around 3:30 p.m. with the teams from the other fire departments.
"They're set up largely with water pumps to pump out basements, but they're prepared for different situations," Keough said. "They could end up being firefighters, standing in for local fire departments; they could be removing debris or pumping water."
Keough said Stinson and White were eager to help out.
"They stepped right up," he said. "It's a big commitment because you've got to give up a few days of your life."
Keough said the fire department has two older pumps that it typically uses for pumping out basements, but they were too big and cumbersome to bring downstate. The department went to Sturdy Supply where they were considering buying one, "and Sturdy's turned around and donated the use of four pumps (and a portable generator) for however long we need them," Keough said.
"That's huge. They were willing to give us everything off their shelf; we just couldn't fit it all in the truck. They said they were glad to help the people in the storm."
A technical rescue crew from throughout Franklin County was sent downstate to help Sunday and returned Tuesday evening, Provost said. Crew members were stationed at Republic Airport in East Farmingdale, in Long Island's Suffolk County, and they helped mostly with water rescues.
Essex County surveyed its fire departments Tuesday in preparation for sending its own response teams to the city, according to Lake Placid's head fire driver, Brad Jaques.