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Transcript: Deputy Mayor For Public Safety Banks To Hold Briefing On Public Safety In New York City

July 21, 2023

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Moderator: Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining us for today's public safety briefing led by Chief of Operations for the Office of Public Safety Justin Meyers. Following our last speaker, we will take a few questions from the media followed by some questions that have been submitted by the public ahead of today's briefing. I will now turn it over to Chief Meyers.

Justin Meyers, Chief of Operations, Office of Public Safety: Welcome to our weekly New York City Public Safety briefing. I'm joined here today by a number of my colleagues from the public safety portfolio here in the City of New York, and we're going to be talking about a lot of important issues that have been facing the city, as well as some really incredible accomplishments from members of the public safety team here in New York City.

So today we have our FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh, who's headed to Washington, D.C. next week to push the federal government for greater regulation on lithium-ion batteries. We've been talking about this issue for some time here in the city of New York. Unfortunately, lithium-ion batteries are now a leading cause of fire-related death here in the city of New York, and Commissioner Kavanagh and the FDNY have been making a significant push both here in the city and nationally to draw attention to this issue and to bring much needed federal regulation to lithium-ion batteries.

Commissioner Kavanagh will also share with us some important work she's going to be doing down in Washington D.C. continuing to advocate for 9/11 survivors, heroes, members of the FDNY who responded to the September 11 attacks. Commissioner Kavanagh has been a very loud voice in Washington D.C. continuing to advocate for much needed medical care and other resources for those folks, and she'll be going down next week to Washington to continue that work.

I'm also joined by New York City Emergency Management Deputy Commissioner Christina Farrell and members of the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue team representing New York City Emergency Management, the FDNY and NYPD, who just arrived home earlier this week from their deployment in Vermont, where they assisted in the rescue and recovery efforts following the extreme flooding that decimated the state of Vermont over the past few weeks.

The Commissioner and the team are here to tell us more about that deployment and their mission to help our neighbors in Vermont in the wake of that devastation. So first, I'd like to start with Commissioner Kavanagh. As I mentioned, Commissioner Kavanagh will be making a very important trip to Washington D.C. next week to testify on two different topics. The first is she will be testifying before Consumer Product and Safety Commission on lithium-ion batteries, which as I noted, are the second leading cause of fire-related deaths here in the city of New York in 2023. And the second issue is that the Commissioner will be advocating for a cause that resonates deeply, as I mentioned before, with all New Yorkers, which is securing funding for a health program dedicated to supporting the heroes who responded to the September 11 attacks. So Commissioner Kavanagh, can you share with us a little bit about what you'll be doing down in D.C. next week?

Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh: Sure. Thank you, Chief Meyers. As you mentioned, I'm heading to Washington D.C. to testify in front of the Consumer Product Safety Commission about the dangers of lithium-ion batteries, which I have talked about at a number of these briefings. This is an incredibly critical issue for public safety, as we have said over and over. Fires caused by lithium-ion batteries have grown exponentially every year since 2021. We are now, unfortunately, seeing more and more of these kinds of extremely fast moving, very powerful fires with some regularity in the city.

As of this week, there have been 131 fires, 76 injuries and 13 deaths caused by these lithium-ion batteries. The Fire Department and the Adams administration have been coming at this from every single angle, stepping up enforcement, educating the public, working with the city, state, and federal lawmakers to come up with laws that will help prevent these kind of fires from starting in the first place.

Our D.C. trip presents a unique opportunity to have both a national stage, but also to speak directly to the agency that has the power to issue and enforce mandatory standards for product safety. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has already started pressing manufacturers not to sell these micro-mobility devices unless they adhere to safety standards for batteries. While in D.C., I'm also going to get to speak to lawmakers about the importance of working on ways to get ahead of this problem and provide funding to get ahead of the problem.

Also why I'm in D.C., as Chief Meyers mentioned, I will meet with lawmakers about funding for the 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding and Correction Act, which is pending. Very shockingly, some lawmakers from around the country have not said that they will support it. Absent that support, the World Trade Center Health Funding Program cannot sustain. The program is truly a lifeline for our sickened members and all of those working in the rescue and recovery on 9/11 and in the days and months after and are all under medical monitoring 20 years later.

The CDC-run health program is facing massive cuts in just a few years. This matters because people are still getting sick, people are still dying, and while we can't do anything to change what's already been done or the losses we've already faced as a city and a department, we can do more for the people who are still here. We can and should take care of them. We owe it to them as Americans to show up for those who showed up for all of us in our darkest hours. I will meet with lawmakers from around the country and remind them why they should care. It seems unconscionable to have to continually seek support from lawmakers outside of New York and beg for funding for this essential lifesaving program, even while the numbers of sickened FDNY members are rising.

Our World Trade Center medical monitoring program works. Our members experienced improvements over times in symptoms and other metrics. The benefits of early detection are substantial, and care provided by the program reduces disease burden and improves survival. Honoring the sacrifices of our members on 9/11 means advocating for the survivors and it means lawmakers passing this critical legislation and fully funding the programs that have been proven to help. The FDNY will not stop pushing until our members have the care that they deserve. Our advocacy is how we honor the legacy of those who gave their lives in the response and the recovery on 9/11. It is what we owe them, and we call upon others to join us. I also just want to thank the USAR team who returned earlier this week and who put their lives on the line every day for New Yorkers and for the last couple of weeks for Vermonters as well. Turn it back over to you.

Meyers: Thank you, commissioner, and thank you for your leadership on those two incredibly important issues. We've all talked about never forgetting 9/11. That event was such a tragic event here in the city of New York and, of course, across this country and it is honestly despicable that you have to continue to go down to Washington D.C. and advocate for the people who risk their lives to save so many others, gave their lives and to get the support that they need.

It's very omnipresent here in the city of New York. When you're part of the Public Safety team, there's so many current and past members suffering from 9/11 related illness and they deserve the support of this country. So thank you for your efforts and for your continued efforts in the FDNY on that issue.

A quick question on the lithium-ion batteries because I think it's important that we continue to talk about it and remind folks that lithium-ion batteries are an everyday part of our lives now. They're in cell phones, they're in electrical vehicles. It's not that all lithium-ion batteries are a problem, but there are some very particular types. Can you share with us a little bit about what exactly it is? What's an okay lithium-ion battery? What's a bad lithium-ion battery, and where do they become very dangerous?

Fire Commissioner Kavanagh: That's a great question. So as you mentioned, the phones that most of us use every day have these batteries in them. So there are ways that a battery can be safely used. And really what I'm going to be enforcing when I'm in Washington, D.C. is that the very same regulations that cover our phones cover these e-mobility devices. Those are things like automatic shutoff when a device is charged or gets overheated, things like not being able to tamper with the battery and things like UL certification, making sure that a battery can't charge if it's not being charged with the device it came with. Those are all things that are in our phones. That's why those are much safer devices, and I'm going to be demanding that those things be put into e-mobility devices.

To any New Yorker who has one right now, I would say just a couple things they can do right now in their home to see if they have a safe battery if they're not sure, a safe e-mobility device. Look for UL certification. That indicates a safety certification. Make sure that that battery has not been tampered with by examining it. Any battery, even a UL certified battery that's been tampered with, is incredibly dangerous and very likely to catch fire. And, of course, try to make sure that you're using devices, chargers, batteries that came together with the device from a manufacturer and not ones that you've bought separately or from an unlicensed store. And if you would like to find out more, you can go to

Meyers: And I encourage every New Yorker to go there. The FDNY's put a phenomenal video presentation and other resources on that website that shows really the dangers of lithium-ion batteries. I always like to remind folks when we talk about it during the Public Safety briefings is that a lithium-ion battery fire is different than a normal fire. If a fire were to break out in your home, God forbid, people often think, "Oh, I have a moment, I'll grab this, I'll try to put it out." But when you see these videos on the FDNY's website, you realize how truly explosive the lithium-ion battery related fires can be, how quickly that fire can overtake your house, how dangerous and deadly it really can be. So in the event that it does happen, it's very important to get out of the house right away.

Fire Commissioner Kavanagh: Yeah, as you mentioned, it really would be more accurate to describe them as explosions. If you watch the videos on our website, you can see when one of these batteries fails, there's a tremendous volume of fire and that means both that it is either impossible or very dangerous to get out of your home. It's also very hard or dangerous for our members to get in. And so this is very different as you mentioned from a typical fire where early detection from a smoke detector might give you an opportunity to get out. And so we do encourage folks if they have one in their home, please don't charge it when you're sleeping or not watching it. Also, please make sure it's not between you and the exit, put it somewhere where it is out of the way so if it were to fail, you're still able to get out and our members are still able to get in.

Meyers: Thank you so much, commissioner. Now, we're going to switch topics to a really exciting moment in NYPD history, in New York City history. Earlier this week, Mayor Adams has made three historic appointments at the NYPD. And it's 178-year history, Mayor Adams this week appointed the very first Latino to serve as commissioner. Commissioner Edward Caban is now leading the NYPD. We also had the historic appointment of the first woman of color to serve as the First Deputy Commissioner of the NYPD, Tania Kinsella. And I am very excited to echo the mayor's sentiments earlier this week when he appointed our first woman to serve as the deputy commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism, Rebecca Weiner. Commissioner Weiner has had an incredibly impressive career that would take too long to detail here, but I'm going to try to give a slightly abridged version as it is her first time joining us for the Public Safety Briefing.

She's been a tireless public safety professional here in the city of New York for nearly two decades serving the department in our Counterterrorism Operation and Analysis section is where she started, and she developed an internationally recognized intelligence and threat analysis program that's helped to protect the 8.5 million residents of New York City, as well as helped to protect this country and even partners across the world. So before joining the NYPD in 2006, Deputy Commissioner Weiner was an International Security fellow at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. She was also a biotechnology consultant at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and a Science and Technology Research associate at the Council for Foreign Relations. She also served as the first ever representative of a local law enforcement on the Director of National Intelligence's National Intelligence Council, where she focused on transnational crime and terrorism.

She has not one but two degrees from Harvard University, including a Law degree from Harvard Law School, and she still has somehow found time to serve as adjunct assistant professor at Columbia School for International and Public Affairs and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. So just a little brief background on the NYPD's Intelligence and Counterterrorism Bureau. It was launched in the wake of the September 11th attacks with the goal of creating the largest and most comprehensive counter-terrorism effort of any local law enforcement agency in this country, and no doubt over its nearly 20 years of existence, it has lived up to that goal.

We don't often hear about the work that that unit does by the sensitive nature of counter-terrorism and intelligence, but frankly, it is a testament to the great work that they do because we don't hear about it. So rest assured that New York City's Counterterrorism and Intelligence unit is the best in this country and they work tirelessly each and every day to make sure that this city is safe. And so we wanted to invite Deputy Commissioner Rebecca Weiner onto the program today to tell us a little bit more about what this unit does and how it protects New Yorkers every single day.

Deputy Commissioner Rebecca Weiner, Intelligence and Counterterrorism, Police Department: Thank you so much, Justin. And thank you everyone. A big thank you to the Adams Administration and to Commissioner Caban. I'm delighted to serve in this new role continuing what's been just a tremendously exciting almost two decades of work with the NYPD. So I'm here to tell you a little bit about the Intelligence and Counterterrorism Bureau and our mission, which is pretty extensive, but I'm going to focus on the terrorism side. But our job put simply is to use intelligence to keep New Yorkers safe from terrorism, from targeted violence, to protect infrastructure and events, and visiting and resident officials and dignitaries and to fight crime. We have a pretty robust crime fighting mechanism along with the counter-terrorism side. And using intelligence means something a little bit more specific than what it sounds, which is intuitive, but it's a process. It's a machine that we built in the wake of 9/11 that was at that time new to local law enforcement, modeled on federal government agencies.

And the idea is to collect information, leveraging technology, leveraging the investigative skills of our personnel, leveraging tremendous partnerships that we've built over the years. And with that information, enhance it, analyze it, prioritize it to turn it into intelligence, intelligence that we can operationalize. And we operationalize it every day by sharing it, sharing it as widely as we possibly can given the sensitivities of the information that we're often working with. So we deploy resources around the city and sometimes outside of the city based on the intelligence that we collect and disseminate. We take that mission very, very, very importantly and seriously, and that's part of the reason that I thought it was important to come here today. The work falls on a continuum from deterrence through detection and disruption to a response, and our resources are arrayed along that continuum. Deterrence being, making our incredibly hospitable city so welcoming to its residents, to its visitors, inhospitable to folks that would like to do us harm.

And we do that with a combination of what we call target hardening, so deploying and you will have seen our personnel around the city, heavy weapons, armed and trained personnel as part of our critical response command to areas around town based on intelligence that we come across. The idea is to give somebody who is looking to do something nefarious a second thought, "It's too fortified here. We aren't going to seek to do harm in this place." Deterring also with extensive dignitary protection work, we support every year the UN General Assembly, so all of the international elements and delegations that are coming into the city will have support from the NYPD, from our bureau as well as other federal agencies to make sure that their visits go smoothly and safely. Detection and disruption, investigative work, and that is nuts and bolts, crime fighting work applied to a different mission, which is the idea of countering terrorism.

So generating and following leads wherever they take us. Our investigators work tirelessly to ensure that incidents are prevented. On the response side when an incident does occur, we have developed tremendous expertise and experience over the years in dealing with not just the IED or vehicle ramming incidents that we see characterizing terrorism lately, but something more complex, a chem, Bio-Rad nuclear event, for instance. We've developed great capabilities and detection and mitigation of those sorts of issues as well, so those resources combined make up our counter-terrorism intel bureau and our approach. And the key point is that this machinery, when you put it all together, is extraordinarily nimble, and the threat environment has changed substantially over the last two decades, but our program has been nimble and it's been dextrous enough to keep up with these changes. All of the skills, all the expertise that our personnel have developed over the years can be applied to track threats wherever they come from.

So we will keep you safe no matter where the threat emanates from, and the threat environment has become quite complex. What I want to end on is the point that, just because you may not be reading about terrorism on the front pages and then the headlines of the newspaper, which is a very much a good news story as often as you were in the past, it does not mean that the threat has not gone away. Absence of evidence doesn't make evidence of absence, and I think it's quite important for New Yorkers to realize that competing priorities and other threats are addressed as well, but we remain laser focused on protecting New Yorkers from all sorts of terroristic threats and targeted violence threats wherever they come from.

Meyers: That's great. Thank you so much, Commissioner, for that overview. I think it's a unique opportunity for New Yorkers to really hear about the breadth and scope of the work that the NYPD does, both for the city and across this country, and frankly on an international level. The NYPD Counterterrorism Intelligence Bureau has a phenomenal reputation within the CT and intel world all across the globe, and it's because of the work that you, Commissioner, and so many members of your team have been doing for so many years to really contribute to the Counterterrorism and Intelligence community. Just a really quick question, you talked a lot about terrorism, but the intelligence piece of your bureau also helps for day-to-day focus issues on the public safety challenges of our time... Whether it be gun trafficking from up the iron pipeline here in this country, illegal guns flowing into the city, being able to provide intelligence, and assisting other bureaus across the NYPD to help on day-to-day public safety challenges. Can you share just a little bit about that?

Deputy Commissioner Weiner: Absolutely. No, that's a great point. And as I mentioned, one of the three main buckets of our activity is crime fighting, and that's the day-to-day work that this department does so incredibly well.

The intelligence approach... The collection, the analysis, the dissemination, the intel cycle, if you're a student of these things, can be as easily applied in the context of violent crime, gun trafficking, shootings, homicides, or any other criminal issue that you're confronting as it can to terrorism.

So one of the things that we've done is worked with other bureaus in our department on an inter-agency partnership, the Gun Violence Strategies Partnership, which is chaired by a colleague of mine, Deputy Commissioner Chauncey Parker. And the idea is that it would be modeled on a program that's been tremendously successful at the federal level, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, but applied to reducing gun violence... Bringing multiple stakeholders into a room every day to discuss high profile incidents of violence across the city from an inter-agency perspective, so that all the stakeholders can come together and come up with solutions. Not just solutions for a particular case, but strategic solutions for reducing crime overall.

So this combination of bringing together collection from different agencies of processing, analyzing it, and making sure information is shared seamlessly... Creating partnerships that hadn't existed in the way that they currently exist, has been a key part of our program. We also have field intelligence officers who are deployed into every precinct. And they're supporting the patrol, the Detective Bureau resources who are there, with priority issues of the day. And again, the idea is using their expertise... The subject matter expertise that they've developed over time, using the resources that we have at our disposal to collect the information to support these other bureaus. So it's the same philosophy, and it's worked well in the crime fighting context as well.

Meyers: Thank you so much, Commissioner, and thank you for being here today. Congratulations on your historic appointment. I can't imagine a more deserving person to take on the helm of this incredibly important work. On behalf of the NYPD, thank you so much.

Deputy Commissioner Weiner: Thank you so much for having me.

Meyers: So next we have a fan favorite from the public safety briefings, our deputy commissioner of NYCEM, First Deputy Commissioner Christina Farrell. And she's joined here by a number of incredibly brave public safety professionals here in the city of New York, who make up our Urban Search and Rescue Team, New York Task Force 1. And we're here to welcome them back from their safe return from the state of Vermont.

Our team, our search and rescue team, is comprised of members of the NYPD, FDNY, and New York City Emergency Management efforts. And there's a common culture here in the US and certainly embodied here in the city of New York, that when a disaster strikes... Whether it's here in the city or in the state of New York, if a neighboring municipality is able to provide mutual aid services to that disaster area... Whether it falls within our jurisdiction or not, we step up and we help out.

And unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago, our neighbors in the state of Vermont were struck by some significant flooding. And the state needed resources, it needed assistance, and it needed an urban search and rescue team. And I'm happy to say that we have the best that there is, both in the state of New York and across this country. Our public safety professionals, our search and rescue teams, are absolutely elite, and they were called on to help and assist in the state of Vermont during that devastating flooding.

So the team comprises of 46 members from, as I said, New York City Emergency Management, FDNY and NYPD. And they really do an amazing job, and go into these disaster zones and do incredibly heroic things... Checking in on people, helping to evacuate folks, searching devastated and still very dangerous environments.

And so, I want to welcome back the members of the team. Thank you for the work that you do, every single deployment that you go out on, and invite the Deputy Commissioner to share a bit about what that work was this last couple of weeks.

First Deputy Commissioner Christina Farrell, New York City Emergency Management: Great. Thank you. Thank you, Chief Meyers, for having us here today. So, before we talk about Vermont and the great work that the team did... Since we are emergency management, we just want to remind everyone that while we're going to talk about the flooding that happened in Vermont and how we were able to assist, New York City is definitely not immune to flooding. There was some heavy rains this morning. We're kind of in a season of thunderstorms and rain, so I just want to remind people to take a few minutes to get prepared for dangerous weather conditions.

First, stay informed. Follow the National Weather Service, Notify NYC, to know what the hazards are and when they're coming. Avoid flooded areas. Don't attempt to drive or walk through flooded streets or areas. You should have an emergency kit with essential supplies; nonperishable food, first aid radio, things like that. Also have a communications plan.

And last, as I'm sure we say every briefing we go to, please sign up if you're not already for Notify NYC. You can enroll easily through our app, through 311, or visiting It's available in 14 languages, including American Sign Language.

So today, as you noted, I have the honor of introducing many of the team members that led the task force in Vermont for over a week. We're joined by NYPD Captain Chris Giordano, who is the task force leader, FDNY Captain Liam Flaherty, who is the safety officer, NYPD Sergeant Larry McAlister, who is the rescue team manager, NYPD Sergeant Richard Santiago, who's the Rescue Squad Officer, FDNY Lieutenant John Drew, who is also the Rescue Squad Officer, Dr. Pamela Lai, who is the FDNY EMS Medical Team Manager, and Lieutenant James Gebbia, who is the NYPD Plans Team Manager.

In addition, we are happy to have with us today canine Tuz, accompanied by his dedicated handler, police officer, Daniel Bosco, who are key members of the team. The canine duo of Tuz and Diemo, who are named after our fallen NYPD heroes, serve as a living tribute to the officers' enduring legacy of courage and sacrifice.

So as everyone knows, we recently faced severe flooding in New York State and Vermont due to unprecedented rainfall. Vermont's disaster was immense, yet they were not alone. New York City, through our Task Force 1, stood firmly by their side. The swift and seamless response of Task Force 1, which was skillfully coordinated by our colleagues at Emergency Management, highlights the excellence, professionalism, and readiness that underpin our city's emergency management strategies. We are committed, as has been noted by my colleagues, to the constant growth and improvement of our responders... Providing them with rigorous training that empowers them to face a variety of emergency.

Just one or two days after the storms a couple weeks ago, Task Force 1 swiftly jumped into rescue operations in Berlin, Vermont, showing tenacity and courage throughout their mission. Their efforts led to the extraction of numerous individuals from dangerous situations and welfare checks for those who were unable to evacuate.

As has been noted, the team is comprised of 46 members from the NYPD, FDNY, and Emergency Management, and is led by Captain Chris Giordano, who is here with us today. They showed incredible dedication, successfully rescuing three individuals, evacuating 33 from the impacted zones, and they also conducted welfare checks for 61 individuals who were not able to evacuate.

The task force members also brought their specialized expertise to bear in as assessing the damage to 465 structures in Vermont. They mapped out 116 hazards, which included things like mudslides, blocked roads, and other precarious situations, as well as provided a comprehensive overview for immediate attention to mitigate any further dangers that the flooding had caused.

Time and time again over the last several decades, this task force and its members have answered the call for help, as has been noted across the country and really the world. Some of their deployments have included the 2010 Haiti earthquake, many hurricanes in North Carolina, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico in addition to other emergencies, including the Surfside Building collapse in Miami two years ago.

We thank them for that. And as we are approaching the beginning of peak hurricane season on August 1st, we know that there is also a very good chance they'll be called again very soon to help their neighbors across the country. So thank you all for joining us today to honor and welcome back our extraordinary Urban Search and Rescue Team, New York Task Force 1 members. Now, I'll turn it back to you.

Meyers: Thank you so much. Captain Giordano, could you or a member of our team maybe share a story or an example, a little bit more about what it's like when you get deployed and you're on the ground, the events that you're dealing with, the folks that you're helping to save?

Captain Christopher Giordano: Sure. So just a brief overview of the deployment that we went on. So we were activated on Monday, July 10th. We got into our vehicles, started heading up to Vermont, and I believe we reached Vermont around 0300 in the morning, Tuesday morning.

We immediately sent out a rescue team about an hour and a half north of us to the town of Montpelier to assist the local fire department in emergency calls. At that location in Montpelier, we were able to do evacuations and water rescues. We evacuated 33 people and rescued four people from the flood waters in Montpelier. About three hours later, the rest of the team met the initial team that was sent out to conduct those operations.

In the days following, we did wide area searches and risk assessments throughout the counties of Washington and Orange County, which is in central Vermont. Of those assessments, we did approximately 465 assessments of structures, and identified as the commissioner said, 116 structures that were hazardous. Just to note basic hazards that we identified, obviously water damage, water damage to vehicles, to buildings, to structures. We had road collapses, road cave-ins. We had private bridges that were washed away, just to name a few. As far as the rescue operations, I'll turn that over to Sergeant Larry McAlister and Lieutenant John Drew, they'll talk more about the actual rescues of the people from the flood waters.

Sergeant Larry McAlister: Rescue Officer Drew could speak more specifically about the details of each one of those rescues.

Lieutenant John Drew: Like the captain stated, we were initially sent to the town of Montpelier. They have a river that runs directly through the town, that river overflowed and was spilling into the streets, so they dealt with some severe flooding and swift water conditions. So we got worried that there was a woman across the river that was in need of medical attention, so we loaded up our two inflatable boats with manpower, transitioned across the river and removed one elderly female that was having a cardiac condition. Brought her to EMS on the other side, then we proceeded back to the area that was flooded and removed, 30-some odd people from a hotel that was surrounded by water.

And while doing that, we noticed that there was two individuals that were holding onto a light pole that we're getting swept down river. So we picked them up in our boat as well, removed them to safe ground, and in the process of doing the last overview of the area, we wound up seeing an elderly gentleman in a second floor window that was unable to get out of his dwelling. So it was filled with 10 feet of water, we positioned the boat up against the building and we removed the elderly gentleman out the second floor window to safe ground.

Meyers: Thank you. Thank you both for sharing that information. On behalf of the city of New York, and no doubt the residents of Vermont, want to thank each and every one of you for the work you did. Truly heroic. I mean, it's the stuff of movies, the work you guys do.

It's I think important to note that the members of these task forces and the FDNY Incident Management Team, they comprise of members of the public safety team who have everyday regular jobs in the NYPD, FDNY. Not that the work that the FDNY or NYPD does is all that normal, but they're members of the departments as well as New York City Emergency Management. And when an event happens, they're activated and triggered, and their team comes together. So these folks don't necessarily work together each and every single day, but when an event happens, they get triggered, the task force is formed, and they get shipped out, and they do that incredible work that truly saves lives. So thank you all. Really appreciate it.

Before we wrap up, I'd like to take a moment to recognize on this very special team, a particularly special person, Sergeant McAlister, Larry McAlister, who's an integral member of the New York Task Force team, and the NYPD as well. And unfortunately for the city, he is retiring after 25 years of dedicated service to the NYPD and to the City of New York. And I wanted to take a moment and recognize Sergeant McAlister.

This deployment that he just went on, as I noted, is going to mark his final mission with the task force. And on behalf of the mayor of New York City, the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and all New Yorkers, I want to express our sincere appreciation for your leadership, Sergeant Larry McAlister, as the rescue team manager during so many different deployments, not just this last one. And also recognize your distinguished career in the NYPD, as demonstrated with the exceptional commitment to the task force, providing invaluable expertise and guidance to this team. You've been instrumental in the success of many search and rescue operations, saving lives, and providing crucial support to communities all across this country and this city. So Sergeant, we salute you for your remarkable career, and your service to the city of New York, and we thank you for your selfless service to the city, and wish you the best of luck in your retirement.

Sergeant McAlister: Thank you, sir.

Meyers: So with that, we will take some questions from the residents of the City of New York.

Question: Thank you. Earlier this week, the administration reached out to New Yorkers asking them to submit questions for the officials that have joined us here today. We will now get to as many of those as we can with the amount of time that we have left. Our first question comes from Dan in Manhattan for Commissioner Kavanagh, who asks, "In the future, do you believe that there will be public receptacles for old or disused lithium ion batteries citywide?"

Fire Commissioner Kavanagh: So one of the things that we've been working on with the mayor's office as well as our federal partners, is funding for these types of programs. We're looking at a number of different options for not just the batteries we have now, but how batteries can be safely disposed of in the future, so would there be more to come on that.

Question: Next question comes from Bernard and Brooklyn for Deputy Commissioner Weiner, who says, "Congratulations on your recent and well-deserved promotion. What is your biggest concern, or what keeps you up at night in leading the good work of this marquee bureau?"

Deputy Commissioner Weiner: Well, thank you so much for the question. We do a lot of different kinds of tasks in our bureau, and the key light motif that goes through all of them is finding needles in haystacks, which is a tricky job to keep doing. So what keeps me up at night is the concern that we've missed something. And this is particularly true in the environment we live in right now when we're dealing with a range of issues that we have going on at the same time, which requires a degree of commitment to never overlooking the small details that's hard to maintain.

So the concern is missing something, and we've focused all of our resources on making sure that that doesn't happen. Of the over 50 plots that we've had directed against our city since 911, most of those have come to fruition due to work with partners, partners at the federal level, at the international level, state and local. So we have tried very hard to make sure that we have as many eyes and ears on these issues as we possibly can, day and night, to make sure that nothing is going to keep us up at night as a city.

Question: Thank you. And our final question comes from Jamela from the Bronx for the FDNY, who asks, "Is there a way to make lithium ion battery awareness courses mandatory for owners establishments and employees?"

Fire Commissioner Kavanagh: So that's a great question as well. First of all, I just again, recommend everybody go to, where you can find videos and materials and courses on lithium ion battery safety. We do also do these all around the city in private buildings, with our schools, our public schools here in New York, and so we are constantly doing lithium ion battery outreach, and certainly that will be a part of any new initiatives that we put out there.

I would just like to mention, people do already have these batteries in their homes. So again, if you have a battery in your home or think that you might, please go and check on that battery today. You can go to to learn how to do a basic check of that battery to see whether or not you have a safe device in your home, and how to handle it safely.

Moderator: On behalf of the Adams administration, I would like to thank everyone for tuning into today's briefing. We look forward to seeing you all at our next one. Have a great day.

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