NY1 Exclusive: Marines, Firefighters Share Anti-Terror Training
OCTOBER 21ST, 2003

The U.S. Marines are on Randalls Island this week learning special training techniques from the FDNY as they train together to respond to chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attacks. NY1's Andrew Siff has exclusive video and details in the following story:

On Tuesday morning, members of the U.S. Marine’s Chemical, Biological Incident Response Force, or CBIRF, got a lesson from the New York City Fire Department.

"Even though we have a lot of the same missions, to rescue people and go down into contaminated environments, they've done more real life operations than we have,” said Corporal Aaran Regar of the U.S. Marines.

For the third time ever and the first time since the September 11 attacks, the Fire Department is teaming up with the Marines for joint training. This week, NY1 got an exclusive first peek at the 100 Marines as they learn skills like rappelling down from high floors, crawling in spaces with blindfold masks on, and navigating obstacles that have killed firefighters in the past.

"The key is not to get hurt,” said Sergeant James Sermons of the Marines. “You're going in to help someone else, not to make yourself a casualty."

"Part of their mission is to work in environments where there have been explosives,” said FDNY Chief Michael Weinlein. “So we show them some of our collapse techniques that we use, like confined space, some of our search techniques that we use, and in turn we get benefit from their experience."

Benefits include U.S. government expertise in things like how to detect the presence of radiological or biological weapons.

And as a mock-building collapse revealed, there is a twist. Unlike past Marine Corps training, the soldiers understand that if they're sent into a city after a terrorist attack, for example, it won't be military bosses calling the shots, but police and fire chiefs.

"It is an evolution. It is a new concept,” said Marine Captain Fred Stiff. “It is rare for a Marine unit to fall under the incident command system."

As the search and rescue drills continue on Wednesday and on Thursday, the tables will turn, with firefighters learning from Marines. And on Friday, the will be a mass drill with everyone participating and probationary firefighters acting as victims.