Firefighters Get Creative to Battle Smoky New Year’s Fire

Fan boat used to rid warehouse of thick smoke

BY BILL DEMAREST

fan boat 4MONTEBELLO – Rockland County volunteer firefighters didn’t have to wait long to get their first fire of 2014.

A fire involving a piece of floor cleaning equipment at Manhattan Beer Distributors at 10 Dunnigan Drive – between the New York State Thruway and Route 59 near Airmont Road – filled portions of the company’s recycling warehouse with thick smoke at about 12:30 a.m. While the fire did not do much damage, fire officials said they had to get creative to get all the smoke out of the building.

Tallman Fire Chief Chris Szklany said a brainstorm by Mahwah, NJ, firefighters made their job easier. Instead of using the normal heavy-duty fire department fans to pull smoke out of the building, Mahwah brought its fan boat to Montebello. The fan boat was placed inside a loading bay at Manhattan Beer Distributors, and the boat’s giant fan quickly cleared the warehouse.

The fan boat is used by Mahwah for emergency operations along the Ramapo and Mahwah rivers and is a key tool for coping with frequent flooding in that community just south of Rockland County in New Jersey. Szklany said the Mahwah fire chief offered to bring the boat to Montebello, and Szklany said he jumped at the chance of speeding up operations at the warehouse.

The fire was the first call of the new year in Rockland County. Because of the timing during a holiday, Szklany said volunteer manpower was a issue for his department. Volunteers from Suffern, Monsey and Mahwah were called to assist with equipment and manpower for the incident.

At first, Szklany said, volunteer firefighters did not see a fire at the warehouse building. But as firefighters checked the building, Szklany said firefighters discovered that a piece of floor cleaning equipment had caught fire and had created extensive smoke.

Szklany noted that the building’s fire sprinkler system had kept the fire from spreading and volunteer firefighters were quickly able to put out the fire. The building involved is used for recycling, Szklany said, and did not affect areas where Manhattan Beer Distributors has its products.

No one was injured and the warehouse was closed at the time of the fire. Firefighters finished their operations at the warehouse at about 3 a.m.

Manhattan Beer Distributors operates in the metro-New York area, with facilities in Rockland, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and on Long Island. Started in Manhattan as a small distributor in the 1970s, the company is today among the largest beer distributors in the country.