Roundtable: Tornadoes in New York City

Thomas Dunne
Deputy Chief, Fire Department of New York (FDNY)
New York City is not exactly a tornado hotspot. However, we did have one rip through and damage a section of Brooklyn not long ago. We don’t have a specific tornado policy we do have procedures in place to deal with the large scale problems caused by an extreme weather event.

A specific radio signal has been designated for a situation in which many lives are endangered. This would provide the immediate response of numerous specialized units equipped to deal with building collapses, search and rescue, and firefighting. A prolonged, large scale event affecting a large part of the city would call for the activation of trained and pre-assigned Incident Management Team members to facilitate overall control of the incident. These individuals are specialists in logistics, planning, and operations and are a great asset in managing and coordinating with other agencies.

An extreme emergency might also require the recall of off-duty members from home which would provide thousands of FDNY firefighters to supplement manpower requirements.

Tornados, hurricanes, or large snow storms all require strict personnel accountability and safe, pre-planned staging areas either in our firehouses or other predesignated locations. The specific post-storm component would be determined by the location and extent of damage. 

This response was in reply to the July 2011 Roundtable question.         


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