N.Y.F.D. Has Radiological Unit
Commissioner Edward F. Cavanagh, Jr., of New York City has recognized the hazardous situation resulting from the peacetime use of radioactive materials, as well as the potential catastrophic consequences of possible enemy action, by organizing a Radiological Unit as part of the New York Fire College which is commanded by Deputy Chief-in-Charge Thomas J. Hartnett.
A recent survey showed that there are in the City of New York approximately 400 establishments and institutions where radioactive materials arc used in industry and in various scientific and medical activities. The Atomic Energy Commission gives information to the State Department of Health on shipments of materials and they, in turn, advise the fire department. A recent department order published the names and locations of places where radioactive situations might be encountered by the department in its normal operations.
The Radiological Unit is under the immediate supervision of Lieutenant Andrew A. Keil and consists of fifteen firemen who have recently received an intensive course of training in the fundamentals of atomic energy and radiological defense, under direction of Lieutenant Lewis H. Schwarz, USAFR, New York Office of Civil Defense.
A Radiac course has been established as part of the curriculum of the fire college and is now being given to the chief officers of the department, who attend in groups of twenty-five. The lectures and instruction are given by Lieutenant Keil and firemen attached to the unit. After the chief officers have completed the course, the company commanders will be brought in for indoctrination.
On days when Radiac classes are not conducted at the college, the Radiological Unit members lecture at company quarters and will continue the assignment until all members of the department have received the instruction in the handling of situations where radioactive materials might he involved, and in the protection of personnel as a result of such incidents. The unit will also visit all locations in the city where radioactive materials are used or stored, to determine and report on the conditions which may be encountered by the department in its routine operations.
Geiger counters have been assigned to the care of battalion chiefs and to the rescue companies. The division chiefs carry an ionization chamber in their cars.
While primarily an “every day” adjunct to the fire department, the Radiological Unit has a most important position in Civilian Defense. Receiving and plotting radioactive fallout data at the Control Center, this unit will be in a position to advise as to the proper location of fire lines and warn of dangerous radioactive areas.