NEW YORK -- The 59th Chemical Company conducted its Defense Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Response Force sustainment training with the New York City Fire Department Hazardous Material Team from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2.

The training took place at two main locations: the New York Fire Department Training Division's facility in New York City and at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn.

The main task was to test the concept of handing over the Community Reception Center between the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) and the 59th Chemical Company on Dec. 1.
"This was the biggest training objective: to integrate with the incident command structure and then operate the Community Reception Center," said Capt. Derek Burke, commander, 59th Chemical Company, Fort Drum.

Before this task, the 59th Chemical Company, a subordinate unit of the 20th Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear and Explosives Command, went through a series of familiarization exercises at the Fire Department of the City of New YorkTraining Division's facilities, which has a replica of a portion of the subway system.

The Soldiers also conducted a site survey of high-risk targets in New York to understand better the environment they may have to work in if civil authorities request federal support.

"We're working in conjunction with the U.S. Army, preparing their members to use FDNY equipment and familiarize themselves with our operations," said FDNY Deputy Chief Nicholas Del Re, who led the five-day joint training. "In the case that federal assets are activated, Army personnel can support our operations and take over during prolonged incidents so that our members can go back to protecting the city from fires and emergencies."

According to Del Re, they are preparing for a potential incident involving a radiological dispersion device or an improvised nuclear device, where 800,000 to 1 million New York citizens might be concerned about being contaminated during a terrorist attack.

That is when the community reception centers come into play at Fort Hamilton. The training scenario was following a terrorist attack in which city first responders were overwhelmed, forcing them to request assistance from the federal government. At these reception centers, concerned citizens can go to be screened, and if necessary, decontaminated.

"The missions of the military and the fire department has never been closer; what we have learned from the 59th is immeasurable," said New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro. "The work they do is at the highest level of importance in this country, and it is what we do: taking care of people in this country by keeping them safe."

At Fort Hamilton, the 59th Chemical Company exercised its ability to properly conduct a handover of operations with the FDNY at one of six Community Reception Centers and conduct a screening of the public arriving at the center.

The Community Reception Center is designed to provide an area for the public to go for screening if they believe they were exposed to anything during a CBRN event. Before this, the idea was to keep the public at the incident site.