Mayor Mark A. Smith announced that Bayonne Firefighters participated in a Metro Urban Search and Rescue disaster drill at the Newark Fire Department Training Academy on April 15 through April 19. Over 400 firefighters and Emergency Responders from ten Fire Departments and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey gathered to participate in this year’s drill. It was the sixth annual of drill of its kind.
Bayonne firefighters are trained and equipped with a federally funded rescue rig and specialized rescue tools to deal with large-scale disasters requiring joint agency response. As part of the Metro Strike Team initiative, Bayonne trains throughout the year with other emergency response agencies to prepare for challenging rescues. For a period of four days, the firefighters rescued mock victims from the simulated carnage of a water treatment facility explosion, the result of a simulated terrorist attack. The rescuers had to free trapped and injured victims by way of breaching concrete walls, removing heavy obstacles, crawling through tunnels, and rendering safe a simulated terrorist explosive device. The eleven teams of rescuers worked for hours honing techniques and skills relevant to collapse and infrastructure.
The Metro USAR Strike Team is made up of nine fire departments from Bayonne, Elizabeth, Hackensack, Hoboken, Jersey City, Newark, Paterson, Morristown, and the five-municipality North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue Agency. Members also include New Jersey Transit and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police officers. The team’s full complement counts approximately 500 members. The nine departments are drawn from the six counties (Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic and Union) and two cities (Jersey City and Newark) participating in New Jersey’s Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI).
Operated regionally with oversight from the State Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, the UASI program is federally funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and designed to help protect the country’s urban areas most prone to potential terrorist attack.
Mayor Smith said, “It is essential that Bayonne firefighters know how to respond to several kinds of emergencies in a skillful and effective manner. I commend the Bayonne firefighters who participated in this important program. My Administration will continue to support a variety of training operations for our firefighters and police officers.”
Public Safety Director Jason O’Donnell said, “The training brought the Bayonne Fire Department more knowledge about how to handle a variety of emergencies. It is important that several agencies from the region worked together in this drill, because we provide each other mutual aid during fires and other emergencies throughout the year.”
Fire Chief Gregory Rogers said, “The recent terrorist attack in Boston reaffirms our determination to remain prepared. We train very hard throughout the year, and our personnel are equipped and ready for joint operations with the Metro Strike Teams for any municipality that may require our help. We are very fortunate to have Bayonne firefighters prepared for such high-level operations. Their new rescue skills offer improved protection for our residents.”