LIMA Fire Rescue Team Aids in Manorville Wildfire
Always at the ready, the Long Island MacArthur Airport Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) team was one of more than 100 agencies that responded as part of the Suffolk County Mutual Aid Agreement to help combat the wildfire in the Pine Barrens on April 9. LIMA’s Director of Emergency Services, Joe Badala, Airport Chief of Fire Rescue, Joe Marino, HazMat Coordinator, Mike Delgado, and firefighters Andrew Renison and Jason DiGrazia were all part of the coordinated response.
“The men and women of our fire and emergency services, who stopped what they were doing and responded to these fires, have our deepest gratitude for their dedication and bravery,” Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci said. “We are very proud of the work they did in protecting our lives and property.”
LIMA’s ARFF Team headed out to the wildfire with Rescue 6, the Airport’s 3,500-gallon tanker that’s most effective in remote areas where no fire hydrants are available. Rescue 6 initially provided water for the equipment used by the Bohemia, Lakeland and Holbrook Fire Departments and later worked with Fourth Division fire departments to battle numerous structure and wildfires, returning back to the Airport just before dawn on Tuesday. The LIMA ARFF Team has one of just 10 tankers in all of Suffolk County and has been a part of numerous large-scale incidents ranging from tanker fires to wildfires.
Badala and Delgado were called to the scene not only as members of the Airport responders, but also under their dual roles as Suffolk County Fire Rescue Deputy County Fire Coordinators. Each was assigned to specific areas of the wildfire to oversee the firefighting operations.
“The MacArthur Airport Fire Rescue and Town of Islip HazMat teams are highly trained professional firefighters, most of whom come from extensive firematic backgrounds,” Badala said. “They are highly trained in numerous areas, including Incident Command, which allows them to adapt and meld to any emergency situation.”
The 14-member unit stationed at Long Island MacArthur Airport, is responsible for the safety of the traveling public—more than 1.5 million people annually--and tenants on more than 1,300 acres of property. The department is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All 14 members are volunteer firefighters in their local districts, members of the Town of Islip’s Hazardous Materials Team and also trained Emergency Medical Technicians. It’s incidents such as the wildfire where the unit’s versatility and cross-training become a major asset.
"This type of emergency was an example of the multifaceted assistance that we at Airport Fire Rescue can provide not only the airport community, but to Suffolk County and points beyond," Marino said.
"Our emergency services at MacArthur Airport are made up of highly talented individuals all whom have many years experience in handling many types of emergencies. I couldn't have been more proud of our response and tasks that we were collectively charged with performing."
While several members of the immediate staff were on scene, Delgado was tasked with a role of not only covering the Town of Islip’s HazMat calls but also backfilling to help the Town of Brookhaven Fire Marshall’s HazMat Department, which dedicated its own manpower to battling the wildfire. “Although other team members were already responding to the fire with their respective volunteer fire departments we still had to guarantee response and coverage for both Townships and maintain our required FAA Part 139 coverage at the Airport,” Delgado said. “We ordered two members at a time to be on four-hour stand-by shifts at the LIMA ARFF station until Rescue 6 was returned to service.”