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Press Releases / 2003 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 24, 2003


More than 200 New York City Firefighters and US Marines took part today in a scenario which simulated the release of a Bio-Chem agent. The drill, dubbed "Operation Safe Rock II", was held at the FDNY Fire Academy located on Randall’s Island. The exercise comes after a week-long training session in which members of FDNY trained 120 C-BIRF (Chemical Biological Incident Response Force) Marines in search, rescue, high angle ropes, and mask operations, and the Marines, in turn, shared their expertise on weapons of mass destruction with FDNY. Each specific topic covered during the week played a significant role in the exercise. The victims in the drill were played by 150 probationary firefighters currently training at the fire academy.

“The joint training between our firefighters and the US Marines shows how we as a city and country are better equipped to handle the new types of threats we face in this post 9-11 world,” said Commissioner Scoppetta. "The sharing of knowledge and tactics, as well as the cooperation between these two partners in homeland defense, are key elements in the protection of the people and first responders of the City of New York."

This is not the first time members of the FDNY and C-BIRF have utilized each other’s expertise in their respective fields. Twice before 9-11, joint-training sessions between C-BIRF and FDNY took place involving similar objectives. These training exercises are not only meant to better train firefighters and Marines, but also to familiarize each unit with one another. C-BIRF is one of the only units in the United States Military that utilizes the Incident Command System. At an emergency scene, they would be under the command of the Chief Officer, deemed the Incident Commander, and work side by side with local emergency responders.

C-BIRF was formed in the spring of 1996 to provide the United States Marine Corps with the capabilities for agent detection and identification, casualty search, rescue, personnel and civilian decontamination and emergency medical care. They are based in Indianhead, Maryland, and respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive incidents worldwide. They were activated in response to the anthrax attacks that took place in the Washington D.C. area following September 11.

The scenario was as follows:

A USMC C-BIRF team is in New York City on standby for a planned event. A major release of a Bio-Chem agent occurs and causes the mass-contamination of civilians. The release incurs a Hazardous Material response by FDNY. Mission Commander of the C-BIRF unit offers the assistance of his unit. The FDNY Incident Commander then requests that C-BIRF assist in the handling of rescue, technical rescue, hazard identification and the mass decontamination of civilians involved.

Contact: Francis X. Gribbon / Michael Loughran (FDNY) (718) 999-2056

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