The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for April 3rd, 2013

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Before leaving Manhattan to transit back to the blessed soils of ancient Astoria, while walking down West 59th street (or Central Park South, as the well off would prefer) the other night, one was was suddenly confronted with a corruption of the ordinary scene when the FDNY showed up in no small numbers.

From what I could surmise, one of the many hotels along the edge of Central Park was in the midst of an emergency which demanded their presence.

from wikipedia

Central Park South is the portion of 59th Street that forms the southern border of Central Park in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. It runs from Columbus Circle at Eighth Avenue on the west to Grand Army Plaza at Fifth Avenue on the east. Entry into Central Park is provided at Scholars Gate at Fifth Avenue, Artists Gate at Sixth, Artisans Gate at Seventh, and Merchants Gate at Eighth Avenue.

Central Park South contains four famous upscale hotels: the Plaza Hotel, the Ritz-Carlton (Central Park), which is the flagship of the Ritz-Carlton chain, the Park Lane, and JW Marriott Essex House. Central Park South is one of the most cosmopolitan streets in the world, and is located steps away from Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue shopping, the Time Warner Center, and Carnegie Hall. Some of the most expensive apartments in the United States are found here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

No concern whatsoever possessed me for the actual emergency, of course. Normal human empathy is an under developed organ in my emotional quiver, and the fate of Manhattan’s upper class visitors is well beyond any threshold at which my meager talents and abilities would be measurably effective. Like one of the anonymous ghouls that populate popular cinematic fiction, flesh eating and mindless, I was attracted by the tumult of flashing lights and sirens and stumbled forward.

from wikipedia

The flesh-hungry undead have been a fixture of world mythology dating at least since The Epic of Gilgamesh, in which the goddess Ishtar promises:

I will knock down the Gates of the Netherworld, I will smash the door posts, and leave the doors flat down, and will let the dead go up to eat the living! And the dead will outnumber the living!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The whole event was very exciting, with strangely attired people carrying esoteric equipment about. A great sense of urgency, along with an omnipresent flow of vehicular traffic which snaked along the street negotiating the narrows formed by the gargantuan service trucks employed by fire fighting personnel. Multiple vehicles all were flashing their lights, and I counted at least one ladder and two other units as well as a couple of Ambulances. That’s a lot of light on a fairly dark street.

The German tourists were positively agog.

from wikipedia

Most of the engines in FDNY’s fleet are Seagrave Commander II’s and Seagrave Marauder II’s and include 500 gallon water tanks and either 1000 or 2000 gallon per minute pumps. The 2000gpm pumps are primarily located in the high-rise districts and are considered high pressure pumpers. With the loss of apparatus which occurred as a result of the September 11 attacks, FDNY began to use engines made by other companies including Ferrara and E-One. The FDNY is making the move from a fixed cab to a “Split-Tilt” cab, so the Seagrave Marauder II Pumper will fill the FDNY’s new order for 69 new pumpers.

Truck companies are generally equipped with Seagrave aerials. Ladder length varies and often depends on the geographic area to which the unit is assigned. Those in the older sections of the city often use tiller trucks to allow for greater maneuverability. Before Seagrave was the predominant builder, Mack CF’s built with Baker tower ladders were popular. Most FDNY aerials are built with 75’, 95′ or 100′ ladders. Tiller ladders, rear mount ladders and mid-mount tower ladders are the types of trucks used. In 2010, a new contract was issued for 10–100′ rear-mount ladder trucks to Ferrara Fire Apparatus, using a chassis and stainless steel cab custom-designed to FDNY specifications. Delivery of the first of these new trucks is anticipated in the 1st quarter of 2011.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Then the cops showed up.

I’ve always obeyed a singular rule in the Shining City of Manhattan, which is to depart and quit any location currently occupied once the cops show up. Following this dictum has kept your humble narrator from experiencing several unpleasant moments over the years, and kept my relations with the Police at an absolute minimum.

Accordingly, one spun upon his well worn heels and headed east toward the subway, which would carry me away from the Shining City towards the rolling hills of raven haired Astoria via its deeply buried tunnels.

from wikipedia

The FDNY, the largest municipal fire department in the United States, and the second largest in the world after the Tokyo Fire Department, has approximately 11,080 uniformed officers and firefighters and over 3,300 uniformed EMTs and paramedics. It faces extraordinarily varied firefighting challenges in many ways unique to New York. In addition to responding to building types that range from wood-frame single family homes to high-rise structures, there are many secluded bridges and tunnels, as well as large parks and wooded areas that can give rise to major brush fires. New York is also home to one of the largest subway systems in the world, consisting of hundreds of miles of tunnel with electrified track. The multifaceted challenges they face add yet another level of firefighting complexity and have led to the FDNY’s motto, New York’s Bravest.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 3, 2013 at 12:15 am

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