Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hurricane Preparedness

June 1st marks the beginning of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season.  As we were reminded last August, by Hurricane and Tropical Storm Irene, hurricanes can cause serious damage not just to the southern parts of the United States but in our area as well.  Now is a good time to make proper preparations so that you and your loved ones are ready in the event of a hurricane this season.

An average of five hurricanes land on the U.S. coastline every three years. In spite of this hazard, statistics suggest the coastal population of the United States will double between 1995 and 2010. Great Neck is on and island on the Atlantic Coast of the United States.

Hurricanes are huge tropical storms that move in a counterclockwise spiral. They form in the eastern Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, or the southern Atlantic Ocean. The storm’s calm center, called an eye, is usually about 20 to 30 miles wide. The storm around the eye can extend outward 400 miles with winds in excess of 74 mph. It's important to know what to do before, during, and after a hurricane:

Have a hurricane disaster plan: Locate local shelters. Map the route to a nearby shelter; this will reduce travel time. Make sure you know how to get there before an evacuation order is issued.
If you are not ordered to evacuate, find shelter in your home. The safest place during a hurricane is an interior room without windows. Get your home and yard ready for a hurricane. Install hurricane shutters; remove dead and diseased trees and branches; identify items in the yard that should be brought inside; clean rain gutters, outside stairwells, window wells, drain lines, and downspouts.
  • Family members can become separated during a hurricane. Be prepared by creating a plan for how to reach one another. Establish an out-of-area contact (such as a relative or family friend) who can coordinate family members' locations and information should you become separated. Make sure children learn the phone numbers and addresses, and know the emergency plans.
  • Prepare a “family disaster supplies kit”. Families with children should have each child create their own personal pack.
If a hurricane watch has been issued for your area, conditions are favorable for and could produce a hurricane. Listen to the news and the weather updates and make sure you leave if an official evacuation is ordered. Cover your windows with hurricane shutters or plywood. Taping windows offers little or no protection against the winds. If a hurricane warning has been issued, a violent storm, possibly a hurricane, is expected within 24 hours.
  • Remain inside, away from windows and doors.
  • During power outages avoid carrying a lit candle. Use flashlights instead. Don't use a lit candle when searching for items in a confined space. Never use a candle for a light when checking pilot lights or fueling equipment such as a kerosene heater or lantern. The flame may ignite the fumes.
  • Do not be fooled by the calm when the eye of the hurricane is above your area; the worst of the storm is probably yet to come.
  • Be prepared for tornadoes caused by hurricanes; remain inside and at the center of your home or in a closet or basement.
If you are evacuated, take your “family disaster supplies kit” and leave immediately to a nearby shelter.

Continue to listen to the news and weather updates. Often when the storm is over, damage still exists from floods, downed power lines, and electrically charged water. Stay out of buildings that have been damaged or flooded and obey detour and warning signs when driving. Never enter a flooded or barricaded roadway (even with a large vehicle) vehicles can be swept away by only two feet of water.

With a little extra care, together we can that we are prepared for most natural disasters.  For more information about the Vigilant Fire Company visit or like us on or follow us on Some of this information is provided courtesy of the National Fire Protection Association the National Disaster Education Coalition and the National Weather Service. Remember, in Great Neck, if you have a fire or medical emergency, you must call your local fire department directly to ensure the fastest response possible.

  • Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company for fire and medical emergencies anywhere north of the Great Neck Railroad Station dial (516) 482-5000.
  • Great Neck Alert Fire Company for emergencies in the Villages of Great Neck, Kings Point and Saddle Rock dial (516) 487-7000.
  • Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department for fire and medical emergencies south of the LIRR in Great Neck dial (516) 466-4411.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Thirty Minutes to Save A Life

Long Island, May 10, 2012 – On May 10, the American Heart Association and members of the Great Neck Vigilant Engine & Hook & Ladder Company kicked off their endeavor to train more than 5,000 students in eight of Great Neck’s public schools.  

From left to right: Vigilant Fire Company Members and Officers: Josh Kerben, Joshua Feintuch,
Michael Diehl, Nina Noy, EMS Sergeant Steven Blocker, EMS Corporal Joe Oginski, Rachel Namdar,
Drew Dumaine, Doris Groene, Joshua Rakhman and Frank Groene.
“Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is one of the most fundamental and essential skills that one can know. CPR is only rendered effective when it is initiated within six minutes of the onset of cardiac arrest” said George Murphy,EMT-P, I/C – American Heart Association.

According to the American Heart Association, survival rates for sudden cardiac arrest occurring outside the hospital are alarmingly low, with only 11% surviving with fewer than 1 in 3 of those victims receiving CPR from a bystander. This results in 383,000 victims of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year in the U.S. In order to provide patients with the highest chance of survival, Vigilant decided to institute an aggressive multi-phased plan to provide early CPR to the residents of the Great Neck community.

The American Heart Association’s 2010 revised CPR guidelines make it easier for more people to perform CPR. The greater emphasis is now placed on the simplest step – chest compressions, or “hands-only CPR.
On a Thursday morning, the kickoff for the “hand-only CPR” program began with students and administration from Great Neck South Middle School. They gathered in the gymnasium to hear about the program and begin their CPR training during the American Heart Association’s “Family & Friends CPR Anytime” class.
Students with their new Course Completion Certificates! 

“The overall goal is to educate faculty and students in grades three through twelve with CPR training,” said Steven Blocker, Sergeant - Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company. “We want to properly educate over 5,000 students, faculty and staff of the Great Neck Public Schools using the American Heart Association’s “Family & Friends CPR Anytime” program,” said Blocker.

“Training students in CPR, even in this more simple version, means that students become eligible for one of the most exclusive clubs in the world — the “I Saved a Life Club.” I am excited about making Great Neck students eligible. I thank Dave Zawatson, district athletic director, and the Great Neck Vigilant Engine & Hook & Ladder Company for developing this training opportunity. What a great community partnership!” said Dr. Thomas Dolan Superintendent, Great Neck Public Schools.

After the training in the schools is complete, the Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company will begin to provide CPR training to the community monthly at the fire house. In addition, any individual will be able to sign up and attend the American Heart Association’s Heartsaver AED (automated external defibrillator) training.  
For more information about the Vigilant CPR initiative visit or email
Written by Jessica DiMeo, American Heart Association

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How to Survive a Fire in Your Home

Do you know what to do if there is a fire in your home? You can survive a fire in your home if you plan and practice your escape!

Each family member must know what to do in the event of a fire in your home. All of you should evacuate your home immediately.

Most residential fires occur between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. Deaths from residential fires occur in greatest numbers between midnight and 4 a.m., when most people are asleep. An average of 800 fires strike residential buildings each day in the United States. More than 6,500 people die each year from fire – more than half of them are children and senior citizens. The majority of these deaths are in home fires.

Immediate exit is critical to survival. Fire doubles in size every minute. Your home will fill with smoke very rapidly. Most people who die in house fires die from smoke. Smoke causes dizziness and disorientation. It is also impossible to see through smoke. In the confusion, one can easily become lost or trapped.

What you can do
·         Install and maintain your smoke alarms, test them every month.
o   Aside from installing an automatic fire sprinkler system, smoke alarms are the single most important thing you can do to save lives in the event of a fire. Half of home fire deaths occur in the very small percentage of homes without smoke alarms. Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and near or inside all bedrooms. Test your smoke alarms once a month. Replace alarm batteries at least once a year—a good time to do it is when you reset your clocks for daylight savings time. Replace any smoke detector that is more than 10 years old.
·         Plan your escape
o   Family members must understand that their safety depends upon quickly leaving the home. It has been proven that exit drills reduce chances of panic and injury in fires and that trained and informed people have a much better chance to survive fires in their home. A home escape plan must be created and practiced so that each person knows exactly what to do if a fire occurs.
·         Draw a floor plan of your home. Show two ways out of each room. Discuss escape routes with everyone in your home. Very Important: Agree on a meeting place outside where everyone will gather once you've escaped. When firefighters arrive, it is critical they know if anyone is inside the burning structure. NFPA fire escape planning guide for kids
·         Practice
o   Hold home fire drills at least twice a year. Ensure that smoke alarms alert everyone sleeping in your home. Make drills realistic by pretending some escape paths are blocked by smoke and fire.
·         Be prepared
o   Teach everyone in your household how to unlock and open all windows and doors. If your windows have security bars, equip them with quick-release devices. Keep stairways and exits clear and free from clutter.
·         Remember: NEVER go back into a burning building.

If You Live in an Apartment Building
Learn and practice your building's evacuation plan. Leave immediately if you hear a smoke alarm. Know the location of all building exits and fire alarms. Use the stairs—never use elevators during a fire. Report any locked or blocked exits to your building's management.

Escape Tips
Test the doorknob and spaces around the door with the back of your hand. If the door is warm, try another escape route. If it's cool, open it slowly. Close it quickly if smoke comes through the doorway. If you have to escape through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees, keeping your head one to two feet above the floor, where the air is the cleanest. If you can safely do so, close doors behind you as you escape to slow the spread of fire and smoke.

Home fires are obviously dangerous and can be scary.  Consistent practice of escape plans for kids as young as 3 years old will ensure the greatest chance of survival in these emergencies.  For more information about the Vigilant Fire Company visit or like us on or follow us on

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Join CERT, Prepare to Serve Your Community in Times of Disaster

On Wednesday, March 21st a free six series course preparing individuals interested serving on a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) will begin at the Atlantic Hook and Ladder Company of the Port Washington Fire Department located at 25 Carlton Avenue in Port Washington, New York.  The course will convene from 7 – 10 PM weekly for six weeks ending on May 2nd

This is a countywide program designed to train those interested in disaster response and recovery skills.  Instruction will be lead by the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management.  Topics covered will include fire safety, search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations.

The Community Emergency Response Team concept was developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) in 1985…

The training program…furthers the process of citizens understanding their responsibility in preparing for disaster. It also increases their ability to safely help themselves, their family and their neighbors. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recognizes the importance of preparing citizens. The Emergency Management Institute (EMI) and the National Fire Academy adopted and expanded the CERT materials believing them applicable to all hazards.

The CERT course will benefit any citizen who takes it. This individual will be better prepared to respond to and cope with the aftermath of a disaster. Additionally, if a community wants to supplement its response capability after a disaster, civilians can be recruited and trained as neighborhood, business, and government teams that, in essence, will be auxiliary responders. These groups can provide immediate assistance to victims in their area, organize spontaneous volunteers who have not had the training, and collect disaster intelligence that will assist professional responders with prioritization and allocation of resources following a disaster. Since 1993 when this training was made available nationally by FEMA, communities in 28 States and Puerto Rico have conducted CERT training.
(from the Citizen Corps Website

For more information about this program and to sign up for this important opportunity visit Nassau County's Community Emergency Response Team.  Thank you to Emi Endo from Newsday for sharing this article about the event.

For more information about this or other ways the Vigilant Fire Company can help you and the Great Neck community prepare contact us at

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Great Neck’s Bravest Rescue Unconscious Person in a Great Neck Plaza Store

Vigilant Fire Suppression units arrived
within minutes of the alarm.
On Thursday, January 19, 2012, at approximately 1:10 PM the Vigilant Fire Company was alerted for a person having a seizure at 34 Middle Neck Road, Bruce’s Bakery in Great Neck Plaza.  Upon arrival Captain Justin Sachmechi & EMS Corporal Joe Oginski found the person unconscious in the basement.  Simultaneously, they noted elevated carbon monoxide levels on their CO meters.  A carbon monoxide meter is carried into every call that the firefighters and EMTs respond to.  Immediately, Captain Sachmechi requested that a General Alarm be transmitted to investigate the hazardous material that was found.  While the fire suppression apparatus was responding, Captain Sachmechi and Corporal Oginski assisted by EMT Ken Bleck and others from the store evacuated the store and removed the unconscious victim to the street level.

Engine 8314, Rescue 834 & Ladder 8312 responded, under the command of Second Assistant Chief Josh Charry. The building was evacuated and searched for other victims, the gas supply to the building was shut off by National Grid and the building was thoroughly ventilated until all there was no residual carbon monoxide.  Adjacent buildings were also checked for the odorless, colorless, poisonous gas.   

Three people were transported to local hospitals for evaluation. 9 others were treated at the scene and released.  Mutual aid was provided by the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department’s ambulance unit & Nassau County Police Department Ambulance Bureau. All units returned to service at 2:27 PM.

Vigilant Ex-chief and Engineer Ed Canfield (left)
and Assistant Foreman Brian Morris at the
scene of the incident.
This incident is the 2nd in the last 10 days where multiple people were sickened by carbon monoxide.  It should serve as a good reminder to service your heating equipment annually and ensure that you have working carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in your home monthly.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

January 2012 - Carbon Monoxide Safety

Carbon Monoxide Safety
In light of a recent incident at the United States MerchantMarine Academy at Kings Point in Great Neck, where 39 people were taken to area hospitals for evaluation after Carbon Monoxide exposure.  We wanted to share information about the dangers of CO and how to best avoid the situation that occurred.

Carbon monoxide (CO), often called the silent killer, is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels burn incompletely. Extremely high levels of Carbon Monoxide can be fatal, causing death within minutes.

General Safety about Carbon Monoxide
• Have fuel-burning heating equipment and chimneys inspected by a professional every year before cold weather sets in.
• When using a fireplace, open the flue to ensure adequate ventilation.
• Never use your oven to heat your home.
• If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered or blocked with snow or another obstruction.
• During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
• A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent intakes.
• Only use barbecue grills — which can produce CO — outside.
• Use battery-powered lights in tents, trailers and motor homes and motor boats.
• CO alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms.
• If the CO detector alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel arrives to assist you.

CO Detector Tips
• Install CO detectors inside your home to provide early warning of carbon monoxide.
• CO detectors should be installed in a central location outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO detectors throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
• Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
• Combination smoke and CO detectors must be installed in accordance with requirements for smoke detectors.
• Choose a CO detector that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
• Call your local fire department’s non-emergency number 516-487-1086 to find out what number to call if the CO detector alarm sounds.
• Test CO detectors at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions (usually between 5 and 10 years of the manufacture date stamped on the back of the detector).
• If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it. If it still sounds, call the fire department.

You can follow the Vigilant Fire Company on Facebook at and Twitter at