The Fire Department’s Marine Unit made a dramatic rescue off City Island recently, pulling a man from the water who had fallen out of his dinghy in a heavy current.
Firefighters Chris Fitzsimmons of Edgewater Park and Robert Hogan were aboard the FDNY’s Marine Four water rescue boat, based out of Fort Totten near the Throgs Neck Bridge in Queens, when they received a call about a man who had fallen in the water and was in need of assistance off of Fordham Place on City Island.
The crew was two hours into their shift when the call came over the radio around 8 a.m. on arrived on the scene in seven minutes.
Upon arriving, they found the 61-year-old owner of Barron Boat Yard, John Barron, holding onto a mooring ball near the shore, his small boat was caught in the current and overturned against some rocks. He had been in the water for over an hour before being pulled to safety.
“The first thing that we saw when arriving on the scene was the man’s head sticking out of the water near the mooring, with the current pushing him around,” Fitzsimmons said. “We were able to pull up right along side him in our Boston Whaler and rescue him. He was conscious but totally exhausted and cold because it was still early in the morning.”
Apparently, Barron had gone out into Long Island Sound in his work boat to perform maintenance on a boat in the water. His wife called 911 when she realized that his boat had overturned.
“When we received the call, the FDNY City Island land units were also called, and Ladder 53 and Engine 70 arrived at the scene around the same time,” Fitzsimmons said. “EMS also responded and was waiting on the dock.”
According to FDNY Marine Lieutenant Charlie LaClair, the rescue crew is only available from 6 a.m. to midnight from May to October. LaClair said that there is a need for rescue boats on a year-round basis.
“It is a very well kept secret that the men on these boats make a lot of rescues of people who fall in the water accidentally or intentionally,” LaClair said. “There is an extreme need for this kind of rescue operation to be made available year-round, and around-the-clock. We handle quite a bit of activity near City Island, Long Island Sound, and Eastchester Bay.”
Barron declined comment.