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Fire Chief: Blizzard was 'Nightmare for our Community'

Chief Mirante from Setauket Fire Department and Chief Seelin from Stony Brook Fire Department checked in with Patch on Sunday.

With crews on standby starting on Friday evening, the local fire chiefs said their departments did the best they could responding through what one of them called "a nightmare for our community."

That chief, Dennis Mirante of the Setauket Fire Department, also described it this way: "The past few days have presented us with many challenges that have been been both mentally and physically exhausting."

According to Mirante, the Setauket Fire Department received 55 calls between Friday evening and Sunday morning.

According to Stony Brook Fire Department chief Andy Seelin, his department received 17 calls during that same time frame, including a call for help with the vehicles that were stuck during the blizzard on Route 347 in Lake Grove. In another call, crews had to use one of the department's 4x4 trucks to respond to a call for help. In another call the department received, Seelin said the crews couldn't even make it down a street with their truck, so they parked, trekked about a mile to the patient's home – then brought him back to their vehicle in a "stokes basket" that they steered on top of the snowy road. One call came in from Stony Brook University, but Seelin said the university's fire marshal determined that a fire department response wasn't necessary.

"We’re disappointed the roads didn’t get open fast enough, but the fire department did what they had to do," Seelin said, adding that some of his department's volunteers couldn't get out of their homes in order to respond to the calls.

Mirante said Setauket volunteers experienced some of the same.

"Because of the unprecedented snowfall and its inherent dangers, our response was limited to life threatening conditions," he said. "... For each ambulance call, we had to send multiple vehicles and one of our plows to ensure the safety of the crew and patient, and to also ensure that the ambulance would not be yet another vehicle to succumb to the weather conditions."

"We either plowed [the streets] with our plow and got the assistance from the town or independent contractors to help clear the roads, or improvised in any way we could to find an alternate means to get the patient to the ambulance," he said.

Mirante advised residents to report their unplowed streets to the Town of Brookhaven via its website, and to keep fire hydrants clear in case of emergency.

"The fire district has recently added flag markers to the hydrants to assist in locating them. Without these markers, it would be essentially impossible to determine the hydrant location after significant snow accumulation," he said.

Vilhelm February 11, 2013 at 09:57 PM
First of all, being our in your inadequate vehicle during a major snow storm is your own fault, you created the "emergency". Second of all, departments are not allowed to "self deploy" to another district. You were in Centereach Fire District, that IS who was supposed to respond. The only people that did anything wrong (other than you, for putting yourself in this situation) was the store owners that should have offered you a warm place to stay since you got yourself stranded. It's not like there wasn't plenty of warnings to "STAY OF THE ROADS". So a fire truck or ambulance should have risked their lives to help you, and not someone in legitimate need like a victim of a heart attack or a fire? People like you who overburden our VOLUNTEER emergency services and therefore render them not available to help people with true emergencies. I bet you would call 911 for a broken toe nail also?
D February 11, 2013 at 11:58 PM
Less my toenail of course!!!
D February 12, 2013 at 12:06 AM
I have decide to delete my comments to you Vilhelm, due to the fact that you are totally not worth my time or energy. Go live in your glass house and when judgement day comes, may it all come back to you. God Bless the haters like you. You need it more than I.
mary February 12, 2013 at 02:18 AM
i personally know vicki shes a fantastic woman i knew 1 day in this job shell make a lifesaver to someone in need i so love her go VICKI xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo!!
JJ Smith February 12, 2013 at 12:32 PM
Well said!
Vilhelm February 13, 2013 at 05:10 AM
Never got to see your comments, but I suspect your retraction was not so much about me being "worth your time" since you spent more of your time deleting the comments... As far as judgement day, ya I think I will be ok. I spend my time actually helping others, not just talking about it on the internet and wishing people would get me out of my self imposed mess... Good evening to you just the same.

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