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Harrison, Rye Firefighters Hold Joint Training Day

RYE, N.Y. -- Harrison and Rye firefighters joined forces on Thursday for a joint training day in Rye to sharpen their skills and to foster cooperation between the two departments.

Firefighters practiced their drills at a house at 5 Fieldstone Road in Rye. According to Harrison Firefighters Union 2245 President Jimmy Forrest, the house was donated by a private developer who is going to knock it down and build a new one in a couple of weeks. Forrest said that the joint training between the Rye and Harrison fire departments began approximately nine years ago when a guy from Rye and another from Harrison became friends while at the firefighter’s academy in Valhalla.

“We have kept a good relationship between the two departments over the years,” Forrest said. “Rye is our neighboring department who is the first to respond for us when we need mutual aid so it makes sense to train together.”

John Castelhano, president of Rye Firefighters Union 2029, said that the day was meant to simulate real life experiences firefighters might have to potentially go through in case of an emergency. The drills consisted of going into a smoke-filled house to find a person and ventilating the roof of a garage on the property.

“We’re sending in teams of two to find someone in all that smoke,” Castelhano said. “The more you practice the more comfortable you are going to become when you have to do it for real. It teaches you to calm yourself down in the face of a potentially dangerous situation.”

While a rivalry exists between the two towns, Harrison Firefighter J.C. Moreno said that doesn’t matter.

“We’ll go back and forth on the day of the Rye/Harrison football game but that’s it,” Moreno said. “But the rest of the year we’re working with each other about two times a month. We’ll go over and have coffee with them and invite them to our barbecues.”

Even though the firefighters train, they hope that they will never have to use it. The reality of the situation is that they probably will sooner rather than later.

“It’s not what to do but what we might have to do,” said Harrison Firefighter Training Officer Greg Lucien. “People will say that we do nothing but sit in front of the firehouse all day but when that whistle goes off a 3 a.m. we are the first people at your house saving your family.”

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