DeKalb firefighters prepare to help in New York

By Josh Albrecht

Since the beginning of Tuesday’s tragedy, the DeKalb Fire Department’s television has not been turned off.

Concern that the firefighters felt during the tragedy is now equally potent with their concerns for fellow rescue workers who are risking their lives trying to find any survivors among the rubble.

And with the magnitude of the search process, assistant DeKalb fire chief Dennis Votaw said the local firefighters union has been contacted to possibly provide help in the coming weeks, as firefighters from larger cities in Illinois already have departed for New York.

“We will send some firefighters to New York,” Votaw said. “We have firefighters willing to go right now.”

Votaw expects that, if needed, two to four local firefighters may depart within a week or two.

Local firefighters have not been asked to go yet because so many rescue workers are already on the scene.

But Votaw said that local firefighters may need to go, because the rescue workers there will need to be relieved of their efforts to remove debris by hand.

“This is going to be a long, long event,” Votaw said.

It is not only the magnitude of this disaster that makes it such a lengthy rescue process. Because there may still be survivors, workers cannot use any heavy equipment until the rubble has been cleared away manually.

Bad weather will become an extra problem for workers to deal with, as well.

“It could take months to remove the rubble and with winter coming, who knows,” Votaw said.