Turnout gear 'mandatory,' New Jersey firefighter says

Turnout gear 'mandatory,' New Jersey firefighter says

June 7th, 2012 by Kimberly McMillian in News

In this Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 file photo, with the skeleton of the World Trade Center twin towers in the background, New York City firefighters work amid debris on Cortlandt St. after the terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

BY THE NUMBERS

Rhea County, Tenn.

Population: 31,842

Square miles: 336

Dayton, Tenn.

Population: 7,191

Square miles: 6.4

Summitt, N.J.

Population: 21,457

Square Miles: 6.1

Source: 2010 U.S. Census

RHEA COUNTY, Tenn. -- Phil Cise Sr., a Summitt, N.J., volunteer firefighter who helped clear debris at ground zero in New York City, knows firsthand the importance of having turnout gear readily accessible whenever it's needed.

Cise, a third-generation firefighter who owns a tree-trimming business, said he learned about the 9/11 plane crashes while working about 22 miles away. He went to help immediately, he said.

Serving as a volunteer firefighter "comes from the heart ... and creates a brotherhood," Cise said.

He said having the proper equipment is essential.

"Purchasing the best equipment is not an option," he said.

Cise, who is in Rhea County working on a book about 9/11, said accessible turnout gear includes four pieces -- pants, coat, a helmet and boots.

Jacky Reavley, Rhea County's fire chief and emergency management director, said that under the former fire chief a grant had allowed for the purchase of newer air packs and turnout gear for volunteers to replace "hand-me-down" equipment.

Reavley said officials have applied for another grant because they do not have enough gear for all the firefighters.

"We haven't purchased major equipment in a while ... and haven't heard anything from grants [we have applied for]," Reavley said.

Rhea County averages nearly 200 volunteers serving 12 fire districts, he said.

In addition to his book, Cise is trying to help raise money for a Sept. 11, 2001, memorial in Independence, N.J.

For more information, log onto www.911remembranceparknj.com.