Man chronicles firefighters' 67-hour shift digging out N.J. township
January 1st, 2011
08:37 PM ET

Man chronicles firefighters' 67-hour shift digging out N.J. township

The epic snowstorm that hit the Northeast last week was matched with an epic effort from first responders, including a group of firefighters in Neptune, New Jersey, population about 5,100.

The Hamilton Fire Company crew that worked the night after Christmas were all volunteers, said iReporter Bhak Tanta-Nanta, a firefighter who filmed a 67-hour shift that spanned three days.

That fire crew and other first responders had to deal with abandoned vehicles, waist-deep snow and residents upset that snow on their streets hadn't been plowed fast enough.

Among the difficulties Tanta-Nanta, a five-year volunteer, and his crew mates faced were:

– A house fire that the crew had to trek to from another street. Did firefighters have issues with the waterhose freezing? “We had issues getting to the house,” Tanta-Nanta said.
– Thirty inches of snow in some areas.
– Six hours of sleep over a three-day period.

Neighbors assisted first responders, digging an almost two-block-long trench so they could pull an injured elderly man from his home.

Firefighters had problems getting to the man’s home. “We could not reach the house but neighbors had been walking to the street [to flag down EMS crews], so they had already made a little path,” Tanta-Nanta said.

At one point, neighbors and children helped dig trenches with the firefighters, Tanta-Nanta said.

‘The whole neighborhood came together. It was really cool to see.”

When asked why he volunteers, Tanta-Nanta said, “I don’t know. We give back to the community. That’s what we do.”

soundoff (251 Responses)
  1. fun stuff

    Wow, some of you guys seem really stressed out! Maybe you should switch to Fox.

    January 2, 2011 at 2:04 am | Report abuse |
  2. paola silverio

    Firefighthers need to be more active...more responsible..

    January 2, 2011 at 2:07 am | Report abuse |
  3. LisaKate

    Well as far as the military and firefighters go its not like they didn't know what they ware singing up for so they should'nt complain.

    January 2, 2011 at 2:14 am | Report abuse |
  4. Tulalip

    @Elizabeth, well put. We have it pretty good here in the Pac. NW (Don't everybody move here, please.) Snow can be miserable and I feel for people who are having a hard time.

    January 2, 2011 at 2:28 am | Report abuse |
  5. LisaKate

    who are you talking to james?

    January 2, 2011 at 2:44 am | Report abuse |
  6. danny v

    Wow ...

    January 2, 2011 at 3:22 am | Report abuse |
  7. Sammie

    Ok, I am 18 years old and it still amazes me to see people, who dont even know eachother, arguing over the status of another person, meanwhile bringing in their personal achievements to make him or herself look better. For all anyone knows they sit in their parents basement in their boxers all day and just like to cause fights. There are any jobs that are underlooked and underpaid, and many people that volunteer their lives and time to help others. They are good people. We need these good people in our world. All jobs have a purpose, whether or not you agree with the purpose doesnt matter, it matters to someone else and that is what is important. So why put down eachother for having different views? There is no purpose for that. Mean words can do nothing for a world but bring us down. If you want unity start with yourselves. Hypocricy seems to be a big theme around here.

    January 2, 2011 at 4:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Seems to me Sammie, that you are wise beyond your years. For someone so young to relies the "good" of some people and the "ignorance" of others, perhaps this old world stands a chance if there are more young folks like you. I am older and have lost hope for a positive outcome in this world of ours. I tend to believe in that old viking religion that says everyone is going to hell, so the only reason to do something good or kind is because it's the right thing to do. Thanks for making me believe there may be a chance.

      January 2, 2011 at 5:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Your right Sammie. I read peoples responses to CNN articles and there is a lot of cynicism and anger. Here we have men and women working long shifts during a major snow storm trying to help others and readers have to write inane, baseless comments. What the heck are Americans so unhappy about? The ought to live in Haiti for a year.

      January 2, 2011 at 7:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Snowman

      Unfortunately Sammie, the internet has given (almost) everyone the opportunity to have an opinion. You know what they say about opinions...

      January 2, 2011 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
  8. kevin worc

    Happy New Year

    January 2, 2011 at 4:20 am | Report abuse |
  9. noggin

    when will the news outlets get it? bad weather on the east coast IN NOT NEWS. NOBODY CARES ON THE WEST COAST. still – we are inundated with news of snow in new york on morning shows, and the evening news. WE DON'T CARE. get over yourselves.

    January 2, 2011 at 4:38 am | Report abuse |
  10. Gaylord

    God Bless the Americans that give the most;the military, firefighters and law enforcement. And guess what, they all get the least for their efforts. Then the public calls sports figures heros who get the most. How screwed up is that!?

    January 2, 2011 at 5:12 am | Report abuse |
  11. David

    Yawn... who cares about what happens to a tiny town in the middle of nowhere.

    January 2, 2011 at 5:46 am | Report abuse |
  12. Sad truth

    Nothing special. Hotel Managers/Hospital Managers/Doctors/Attorneys work these types of hours all the time on Salary so when you break their pay down by hours worked they probably make less than minimum wage. Congress needs to ACT NOW and regulate work week hours for salaried workers! ALL Salaried workers should be Overtime Eligible after 50 Hours!

    January 2, 2011 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
    • CFinan

      Gosh – my heart goes out to all those doctors who don't get overtime. It must be really tough to make ends meet. And attorneys, too. Wait...my attorney gets paid $230/hour. Are you suggesting he get $345/hour after 50 hours???

      January 2, 2011 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  13. In NJ I am

    I find it utterly amazing the negative comments and the such that come along with a story like this. It is quite unfortunate. Comments like “Suck it up” and “Get over it” and “Its winter, what do you expect”. For those who aren’t geographically inclined, NJ is nowhere near Alaska. NJ doesn’t get 3+ feet of snow every winter.

    With that said, I grew up in this town, and a storm of this magnitude is VERY FEW and far between. I am 31 and do not recall a storm of this severity EVER. I am currently living in Long Branch which is 10 miles north. We got it just as bad. Neptune is a full on volunteer department, so every firefighter you saw was NOT getting paid for their actions that night. They could have just as well been curled up in bed, counting the inches of snow and hour, or shoveling their own house and cars out.

    One of two negative things I must comment on is the fact that the Cities and Monmouth and Ocean Counties had no PLAN for a storm like this. Even if it didn’t work, they could have said “we tried”. I am a firm believer expect and plan for the worst and hope for the best. In the same breathe, the forecasters didn’t even expect 30 inches of snow, so my comment could be completely biased since I was in my house all night and day. I spoke to a few friends that are Public Works workers in different towns, and one of them the manager. This person was on the phone with the town Mayor every hour for 96 hours. After speaking to him, you cannot complain considering the heavy equipment they have does not meet the requirements of the snow that fell. Their Cat 938G front end loaders were getting stuck in the snowfall, as it was falling, during the storm. They had to get a Caterpillar Excavator normally used in Rock quarries that is 90,000lbs to move the snow. So with that said, it did humble me.

    The other negative is the after response. Understandably some streets were left unplowed during the storm, including mine in Long branch. Some of these streets were still unplowed / excavated 3 days after the storm. This is unacceptable considering the tax $ we spend to keep our towns looking nice. My street was plowed twice. Once by a guy that spent 4 hours of his time and gas in bobcat and finally Monday night at 9pm by the County. It’s a shame since our road is the first road that the police / fire / EMS use as a main road and drag strip when trying to get to an emergency.

    January 2, 2011 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      Everybody in your thesis are long on excuses except the bobcat-guy working lone 4hrs is the hero. But out of excuses come heroes. I hope small america learn a lesson and each person keep a bobcat in their closet. The mayor and town council can get a sister agreement to help each other. Why don't the first responders house snow removal equipment in each station. Where was the battle cry for the national guard NJ govenor? Lastly the snow story is gettin old, the only death at this point is convenience so time to give it a rest!

      January 2, 2011 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
    • In NJ I am

      I agree with you. My Thoughts on the matter is the same as yours to an exent. If a fire spurred off four alarms, what happens when they need back up? The answer to that should be the same as this situation. Other towns get called in to help. In this case other countys should have been here to assist as well.

      But the snow story really isnt old considering people are still plowed and snowed in.

      January 2, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  14. Ross

    I really hate Canada. What a wuss of a country. Wish our Queen Mum was disown them.

    January 2, 2011 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jennifer former EMT/FF

    As a former EMT/FF, I know what its like to be out there in weather like this snowstorm. A community coming together and helping their nieghbors is indeed heroic. That includes all first responders and regular Good Samasitans. Yes first responders are trained for their jobs, it doesn't matter if they are paid or not, because when you make the call for help you don't care about that, you care about getting the services you called for. They are heroes just like all of our military personnel it doesn't matter whether serve in peacetime or wartime, all of them together make a team and have various jobs that ensure the national security of our country. So thank you to all heroes of this great nation. And to the person who calls themselves "me" you have a right to you own opinion, as does everyone else, I have a question for you, don't you think it was neat how this one community came together to help. This story wasn't just about ff's it was about how the community came together, you kind of missed that major point.

    January 2, 2011 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
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