RealNews

Ranks Are Thin in Hazard Unit of New York's Fire Department

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, when 11 members of the New York City Fire Department’s highly trained hazardous materials unit perished, there was widespread agreement, from outside experts to city officials, that the elite emergency unit needed not only to be rebuilt but also expanded, perhaps even doubled in size to deal with future disasters. But nearly two years after the World Trade Center was destroyed, the department actually has fewer firefighters in the unit, which deals with biological, chemical or radiological attacks, than it did before Sept. 11. Some 14 of the 35 positions in the city’s one formal hazardous materials unit are vacant, according to a current member, and the notion of adding a fully trained second unit appears remote. Full Story

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