A group of fire fighters from FDNY Battalion 13 stand alongside members of CUIMC and NYP fire safety teams

Unveiling the Depths: FDNY Familiarization Drill Explores Campus Underbelly

On March 2, 2024, Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian’s fire safety teams, led by Matt O'Hanlon, director of CUIMC fire safety operations and retired FDNY Captain, and William Parrales, manager of NYP fire safety, conducted a comprehensive familiarization drill of the medical center’s tunnel system and boiler plant alongside members of FDNY Battalion 13.

The two-shift drill, meticulously organized by O'Hanlon and the NYP fire safety team, delved into the intricate labyrinth of the tunnel system beneath CUIMC. Descending into the depths, firefighters encountered a myriad of crucial facilities, from the boiler plant to hazardous material storage, electrical hubs, and even subterranean construction sites. Low ceilings, hanging cables, and narrow passages added to the complexity, emphasizing the necessity for intimate knowledge of the underground terrain.

This drill wasn't just about exploration; it was about preparedness. By familiarizing themselves with the intricate layout, emergency routes, and potential hazards, firefighters can now respond swiftly and effectively during crises. Moreover, the event facilitated collaborative discussions between CUIMC and NYP, strengthening emergency plans, evacuation procedures, and communication protocols.

The drill didn't merely scratch the surface; it ventured into the core of safety preparedness. With careful planning and execution, the drill not only showcased the dedication of the FDNY but also highlighted the commitment of CUIMC and NYP to ensuring the safety and well-being of their community.