The Newark Fire Department Special Operations division handles various services related to hazardous materials, marine operations, SCUBA Team, confined space, technical and collapse rescue, large-scale foam operations, vehicle extrication and other operations outside the normal scope of firefighting. The NFD Special Operations unit also handles training for other departments in scenarios such as large scale disasters promoting cross-departmental team work and improving response times and methods of rescue.
We sat down with Art Mauriello, Battalion Chief for Newark Fire Department’s Special Operations to learn a bit more about the Newark Fire Department’s Special Operations.
1) When did you become a part of Special Operations?
I started with the Fire Department back in 1984 and have been serving as battalion chief for the past 5 years.
2) Do other fire departments have special operation units?
Yes, a lot of the bigger departments do. We are the biggest in New Jersey and we also run the Metro Strike Team. Basically what we do, is we get a call to respond to a collapse, we’ll send 5 units out of the 11. This large response was born from the disaster of 9/11. A need for a specialized unit to respond to large scale disasters. We learned a lot from the New York disaster. Newark is unique because we have the Newark port, Newark airport, Penn station, all right here. Planes, trains, automobiles and more.
3) Explain the unique relationship between ESU (Emergency Service Unit of Newark) and Special Operations.
Mario Martin, who is the Captain of the ESU, and myself, got together and decided to have both departments train together. We were training with car cuts and realized we could all benefit if we got both departments together and trained. Now, if a disaster or storm happens we put a fireman and a police officer together, they have their specialty and we have our specialty. The police director and fire director liked the idea and said this how we should do things. Work together as a team.
4) What are your favorite aspects of Special Operations?
It’s the training and learning new ways to respond to difficult situations. We built this training facility to run every type of drill. We even get outside departments coming here for training. Newark is a big city and we get a lot of fires. If some thing is going to go wrong it will go wrong here so we train for the worst case. I really enjoy seeing and training with the firefighters and other departments. The job is very hands-on and I enjoy that the most.