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Broome County FAST unit that rescues firefighters, “You need to be able to rescue one another.”

DICKINSON (WBNG) — Everyday firefighters risk their lives to rescue people in need, but what about firefighters who become trapped during a fire? Broome County is one of many that has a FAST, or firefighter assist and search team.

“Basically they’re called to the scene of a house or building fire for the purpose of firefighter rescue,” explained Broome County Fire Coordinator Jeffrey Buckler.

Buckler said there are about 25 FAST team members total in Broome County, most of them are volunteers. While they know how to fight fires, their entire focus, if not dispatched to another duty, is the firefighters safety.

“The major advantage of a FAST team is that they’re dedicated and on reserve in the event a firefighter needs to be rescued,” said Buckler.

Circumstances include if a firefighter was trapped under a collapsed roof, became disorientation while inside, or any other situation that requires the firefighter to need help. FAST team members will rescue firefighters so the rest of the crews can focus on the flames.

FAST members may also be outside surveying the structure as it could become weaker from flames. Training also prepares them for rope work, rigging and other tasks to be prepared to pull a firefighter out from a structure.

“It is reassuring that you have other firefighters that are dedicated and focused on the rescue of fellow firefighters inside the building,” explained Buckler. “‘We’re pretty fortunate in Broome County, we have five FAST teams to cover the county.”

Buckler said not every county has a FAST, as some areas assist others. The fire coordinator said Broome’s FAST team formed in 2000. The City of Binghamton has its own FAST team.

Broome County FAST will only be dispatched if a fire department calls them, according to Buckler. He said along with the FAST team, Broome County is fortunate to have EMS crews assisting fire crew as well.

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Michael Schwartz

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