Hazmat Response in Yonkers

In 1990, the Yonkers Fire Department recognized the need for a special unit to respond to the rising numbers of hazardous materials incidents.


Yonkers is the fourth-largest city in New York State, covering 20.3 square miles with a population of over 196,000. Located on the Hudson River and the northern border of the Bronx, Yonkers is the only land connection to New York City. The city was the setting for the movies "Hello Dolly" and...


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Yonkers is the fourth-largest city in New York State, covering 20.3 square miles with a population of over 196,000. Located on the Hudson River and the northern border of the Bronx, Yonkers is the only land connection to New York City. The city was the setting for the movies "Hello Dolly" and "Lost in Yonkers" and was the home of the Otis Elevator Company, inventor of the elevator, which made construction of high-rise buildings possible. Yonkers also was the site of the first golf course in the United States, St. Andrews Golf Club, it's where Bakelite, the first completely synthetic plastic, was invented, and the first FM radio broadcast originated there. Today, much of the early industry is gone and Yonkers has become a suburban bedroom community of New York City, although it is still home to Yonkers Raceway and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, a manufacturer of subway cars, and several other industrial companies.

The Yonkers Fire Department has 450 uniformed personnel led by Fire Commissioner Anthony H. Pagano. Firefighters work out of 12 stations in two battalions and respond to over 13,000 alarms each year. Each company normally operates with four personnel. Sixteen Yonkers firefighters have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, the last occurring in 1986.

In 2006, the Yonkers Fire Department marked 110 years as a paid agency. It has grown from one engine and truck company with six firefighters to 11 engine companies, six truck companies, a heavy rescue, an air cascade, a foam unit, a collapse unit, a hazardous materials team, a mobile command unit, a special operations bus, a field communications unit, technical support trailer, an EMS support trailer and a fireboat. Last year, three new engines - 303, 304 and 314 - and Squad 11 were added to the Yonkers fleet. All three engines are 2006 American LaFrance apparatus with 1,000-gpm pumps and 500-gallon tanks. Squad 11 is a 2006 American LaFrance rescue pumper with a 1,000-gpm pump, 500-gallon tank, 10-kilowatt generator and Lukas Tool.

Squad 11 functions as an engine company on all first- and second-due responses. When it is third or fourth due, the crew may be assigned search and rescue duties. When the rescue is not available, Squad 11 is assigned to boxes citywide as a replacement. The unit may also be special-called citywide if required by the incident commander for a technical rescue, fire or hazmat incident. Yonkers Fire Department response is divided into two battalions with a chief over each and a third safety battalion chief. The safety battalion chief operates citywide 24/7 and responds to all structure fires, vehicle accidents on the interstate and parkways, technical rescue in addition to hazmat response. Yonkers Fire Department does not provide transport for EMS, but it does have a first-responder program to render aid until paramedic ambulances arrive.

Hazmat transportation exposures in Yonkers include Interstate 87 and State Route 9A. There are no major pipelines that go through the city other than natural gas. Barge traffic uses the Hudson River, although Yonkers does not have a port facility. Conrail train tracks are located through the city along the Hudson River. One major industry using hazardous materials is a sugar refining company that experiences frequent acid spills. There also are compressed gas companies and a hospital in Yonkers. Within the Hillview Reservoir site are two water-treatment buildings, one with 30 one-ton containers of chlorine and the other with 50. The containers are transported through the city to reservoir. Residential neighborhoods are located just a few hundred yards from the reservoir site, making them an exposure in the event of a chlorine release from the site.

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