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Nolan Joins Local Fire Departments to
Prevent Brush Fires  

Drill at Long Island MacArthur Airport Provides Critical Training for Fire Fighters    

Ronkonkoma, NY (May 9, 2021) - With assistance from fire fighters from four area volunteer fire departments, as well as the Suffolk County Police Aviation Bureau , Islip Town Supervisor Phil Nolan, Commissioner of Aviation Teresa Rizzuto, and LIMA Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Marino conducted a critical fire prevention drill at Long Island MacArthur Airport on Saturday.   A small army of airport personnel, fire fighters and equipment cleared fire roads on the airport’s 1340 acres that are critical to preventing advancement of brush fires.  Saturday’s drill included members of LIMA Fire Rescue, and volunteers from Bohemia, Holbrook, Holtsville and Lakeland Fire Departments.   A helicopter from the Suffolk County’s Police Aviation Bureau, which is headquartered on airport grounds, provided aerial coordination for the ground operation. 

Supervisor Nolan commended LIMA Fire Rescue Chief Joe Marino, who served as “incident commander” for the exercise, as well as Bohemia Chiefs Jeff Behounek and Richard Andersen, who were co-operations chiefs for the drill.  “Fire roads permit access to wooded areas normally inaccessible to fire crews and equipment,” said Nolan. “This training drill will help volunteer departments tackle brush fires like the one that threatened Connetquot State Park a few years ago.” During the 2008 brush fire at the state park, which threatened more than 3,500 heavily wooded acres near residential neighborhoods, the Town of Islip provided equipment and manpower to help control the incident.  “We learned then how critical it is to have the right training, personnel and equipment in place,” said Nolan.  “These dedicated volunteers come on their own time on a Saturday to practice and learn techniques that will help them protect our parks and residential areas this summer.” 

Using specialized equipment called “stump jumpers” the fire fighters knocked down trees and other heavy brush deep in the wooded areas on airport grounds.  “ The drill was very beneficial to the airport in that it allowed us to clear several fire access areas in a single day and also, thanks to these great volunteers, open an additional access roadway,” said Commissioner of Aviation Teresa Rizzuto. 

Bohemia Fire Department First Assistant Chief Richard Andersen coordinated the fire attack from the air with the assistance of the Suffolk County Police Aviation Bureau.  “The police helicopter is an invaluable tool in coordinating the ground attack of a large scale brush fire,” said Fire Rescue Chief Marino.

Caption:  Left to right: Supervisor Phil Nolan with airport and local fire department fire fighters and other airport personnel stand beside “stump jumpers” used during the drill.  Hovering above, a Suffolk County Police Aviation Bureau helicopter provides aerial assistance.