NY 1 - July 10, 2010by Erica Ferrari
The firefighters' union says the recent week's heat wave made for the busiest week for the New York City Fire Department in almost 30 years.
Thursday's dramatic four-alarm blaze in the East Village came just a day after two five-alarm fires in Queens.
The FDNY responded to 93 major fires this week, resulting in 471 firefighters getting minor injuries like sprains and heat exhaustion. Since Sunday, there have been a total of 8,700 fire incidents, according to the Uniformed Firefighters Association.
"One hundred-plus degree heat for multiple days in a row, New York City's bravest stepped up the plate again," said UFA Vice President Jim Slevin. "Thankfully, the mayor's plan to close 25 firehouses did not go through."
The oppressive heat makes the job even harder, with firefighters carrying up to 130 pounds of gear.
"Firefighters operating in bunker gear, which traps the heat in, your body gets debilitated in this kind of heat," said Slevin. "Operating in a fire in which temperatures reach 2,000 degrees, injuries are going to go up, especially with that amount of fire activity."
One Thursday, a worker admitted to using a blow torch the previous day on the roof of the Bayside building on Bell Boulevard, which lead to a five-alarm fire. He has been arrested and charged with reckless endangerment.
Seven civilians and 15 firefighters were hurt in that fire, and on Friday some residents were still waiting to get back into their homes.