Few places on earth are as honeycombed with tunnels as Manhattan Island, the lifeblood center of New York City, and few places have as many disasters or potential disasters. The New York City Fire Department, formally known as the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY), is the largest municipal fire department in the United States. It is also the second largest in the world after the Tokyo Fire Department, and one of the finest, most active fire and rescue services anywhere.

In June, 2013, for example, its firefighters rescued two window-washers from their broken scaffold high about the sidewalks of a highrise office; it was a daring show of how to control a loss situation and make it safe.

The FDNY was never as honored as it was after September 11, 2001, when it lost so many of its best firefighters to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, a loss that could have been far worse but for the heroic efforts of the fire service. Rescues are the result of the FDNY’s Special Operations Command (SOC), which responds to any major calamity ranging from building collapses, construction accidents, trench rescues, explosions, subway accidents and similar situations. Part of the department’s success is its access to special rescue-related equipment and superb training. The FDNY’s Tactical Support Units use 4X4 vehicles with a winch that carry a six-person inflatable boat, underwater chain saw, outboard generator, telescoping light tower, night-vision goggles and other very special equipment. Essentially, SOC is the “Delta Force” of the FDNY.

The New Subway

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