Hi-rise Fire Air Support plan

History has shown us that in times of crisis people will act instinctively in lieu of Fire Department instructions. When in a high-rise building that is on fire they will attempt to flee the fire by going to the roof.

The FDNY realizes that helicopter evacuations from the roofs of buildings are hazardous and time consuming. In most cases it was determined that roof evacuations were unnecessary since the people were not in any immediate danger. The Department also realizes that there are times when it would be necessary to remove occupants from the roof and/or place firefighting personnel on the roof for fire operations.

To address the problem, the Department in conjunction with the NYPD, developed the Hi-Rise Air Support Plan. The objectives for the plan are:

  • Provide FDNY with the capability of placing fire personnel on the roof of a high-rise building, otherwise inaccessible due to fire conditions for the purpose of ventilation and search.
  • Control, comfort, and direct people who view themselves as trapped and remote from help.
  • Provide the lobby command post with intelligence on roof conditions.
  • Provide the capability to evacuate the roof as a last resort.

There are three phases to the plan:

  • ALERT: Upon transmission of a third alarm in a high-rise building, the Manhattan Supervising Dispatcher notifies the NYPD Aviation Unit to make them aware of the situation.
  • ASSEMBLE: Specially trained Fire Department units and Police Helicopters and Rappelling Team assemble at a pre-determined mobilization point. The order to assemble can only be given by the Incident Commander.
  • AIRLIFT: Air Support Teams are airlifted to the vicinity of the roof of the fire building pending the decision of the IC to actually land members on the roof. The order to airlift can only be given by a staff officer.

For fires in the borough of Manhattan, selection of the mobilization point is determined by the location of the fire building:

  • For fires south of 23rd Street the mobilization point is the 34th Street Heliport.
  • For fires north of 23rd Street the mobilization point is the Wall Street Heliport.

For fires in other parts of the city, the mobilization point will be determined by the Manhattan Supervising Dispatcher.

Upon receiving orders to assemble, the Manhattan Central Office will dispatch a High-Rise Roof Chief and 2 High-Rise Roof Teams (HRRC & HRRT) to the designated heliport. Battalions trained as HRRC's are 1, 4, 8, and 9. Ladder companies trained as HRRT's are 2, 6, 7, 10, 15, and 21.

NYPD will dispatch 1 helicopter (2 if available) with a rappelling team to the designated heliport. If 2 helicopters are sent, the first will transport the HRRC and the rappelling team, the second will take the HRRT. If only 1 aircraft is available, the HRRC & rappelling team will be dropped off at the fire building and the helicopter will return for the HRRT. A unit from NYPD's Special Operations Division will be assigned to the fire command post so that the IC can have direct communication with the helicopter via the SOD radio frequency.

At the mobilization point the HRRC will determine which HRRT will be the primary unit. The primary HRRT will load the 2nd helicopter (or await the return of the 1st helicopter) with the Hi-Rise Roof Kit (HRRK) and board the craft. The HRRK consists of 6 SCBA's with a 1 hour cylinder each, a bolt cutter, 2 Halligan tools, 2 axes, 2 search ropes, and 1 rabbit tool. The Commander of the aircraft decides where to stow the HRRK and controls the seating arrangement of personnel. The secondary HRRT will stand by at the mobilization point and await further orders.

Once on the roof, they will operate as directed by the incident commander.

The above information is my transcription of All Unit Circular 269(R) and should not be contrued as an official policy of the FDNY.