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. Thomas Krul

    It seems that any and every major city in the northern hemisphere (and we're including Florida and Italy here) has had a heavily snow-laden winter holiday... meanwhile, in Ottawa, Ontario, we're experiencing rain and +9C weather... sheesh.

    January 1, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yvonne Branch

      Writing from Toronto and all I can say is thank the good Lord for this beautiful weather. We had the best New Years Eve ever. And to think, my family members in NY are always pestering me about our cold weather here in Canada. Now its my turn to brag. hehehe....... No, on a serious note, I think that this firefighters are doing a wonderful job, too much snow can be really frustrating.

      January 1, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Angela

    It is obviously the government's fault for using their magic powers only for evil. They can make the bad weather but can't snap their fingers to have it cleaned up in 30 min or less. Come on. I am sick of people complaining when we have employees and volunteers working above and beyond to help clean up the streets. Yes winter sucks. Get over it or go help.

    January 1, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • BooseyBoo

      Yes, indeed.

      January 1, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • macmedia

      if you can't take the snow – move to florida. If you want streets cleaned quickly then vote to have taxes increased. You can't have the streets cleaned if they can't pay for the equipment and personnel to do it.

      January 1, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Veritas

    God bless our firefighters and our citizens who pulled together to do the right thing. Pull together for the sake of our fellow man.

    January 1, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. greed is good

    This story sheds some light on the enlighted side of our country and the folks that made us what we once represented... On the other hand we have the Bloomberg probe into the Snow Fighters alleged avengence of budget cuts. Its probably safe to say that they felt as though they had not gotten a fair handshake in budget talks and took it upon themselves to show the City how big and bad a Snow Fighter can be.. Disgusting how low we are willing to stoop to get our voices heard in this country. I was proud to be an American for about 5 days after 911 when I felt unity and a sense of a bigger purpose. Now at times I just hang my head in shame.

    January 1, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tim

    Our true heros. Perhaps they should be the ones to draw the superbowl bonus. Thank God for our volunteer and professional fire fighters.

    January 1, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. me

    I am sick of hearing praises for people that do their jobs.... My father was the fire chief in my town. Its sometimes dangerous.... Enough said. Fire responders are not heros. They are doing the job for which they are trained and compensated for. Soldiers are only heros when they enlist in times of war.... Persons enlisting in peace time are not heros.... They may end up doing brave deeds while they are "in country", but that is mostly done as self preservation. "Heros", are the ones that sign up when chit is already bad.... When its done out of an internal sense of service.... The word "hero" is used WAY too loosely these days.

    January 1, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sirius

      These are volunteer firefighters, these folks are not compensated. They deserve all the praise we can give them because that is normally all they get. As a wife of a volunteer firefighter in a small town we have to pay for some of the specialized equipment for extreme weather. Why do we do this, because we are trying to help make our town a better place.

      January 1, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • mary

      hey, "me" did you read the article? They are VOLUNTEERS, they are not compensated (possibly a small stipend), no salary, no benefits, no retirement. These VOLUNTEERS do this in addition to their "regular" job. And, yes, helping people when you are not compensated for it, that is a hero. They are trained, BTW, thank you, voluteers

      January 1, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Who? Me?

      Exactly! Thank you!!

      January 1, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Who? Me?

      That was directed to "me". He or she is exactly right. Sorry, but it's true.

      January 1, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • kathi g

      I think you missed a major point. Most of those people were volunteers, so they were not compensated! I am a volunteer EMT in my town. Volunteers go out and do their "job" w/o compensation and in addition to working their regular 40 hrs per week real jobs. On top of this, your volunteers still find time to take care of their families. Until I became a volunteer, I had no idea how much our 100% volunteer Fire dept and Ambulance crew did for our town! Trust me, they do a lot! They miss family dinners and school events to come and help their neighbors in need!They are heroes to me!!!

      January 1, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Colin in Florida

      I agree that hero is used far too frequently-maybe 98% of the people who are called 'heros' are not.

      To me, a hero is a person who risks something to help another. A firefighter who risks his life to enter a burning building to search for a victim is certainly a hero.

      January 1, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. esperanza

    The coming 2gether of people, despite socio-economic barriers, to help one another, is ALWAYS a beautiful thing! Sad that it is so rare! But, when crisis envelopes us, whether mining accident, blizzard, hurricane, terrorism, or wildfire, we r all God's children, reaching out r hands to brother and sister. THIS is what humanity is SUPPOSED 2 be!!!!!! Thank God some of us still see that!

    January 1, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. greed is good

    Hey me you must be a a demi god of epic proportions! I agree with you about firefighters etc, however your comments about the military are misguided. I don't think you can determine what a hero is or is not until you've had to look down the barrel of an M-16 to save your own life.

    January 1, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Marine Sgt

    that's what happens when there's cuts
    in the budget and they think
    its ok to cut funding for our
    Fire fighters, or police departments.
    When there's an emergency, our emergency
    personell should be fully perpared
    and able to do whatever it takes to
    get the job done. I would like to say
    that I'm a disabled veteran, and that
    I appreciate everything firerighters, and
    Police officers do to keep us safe. You
    all should be getting payed a lot more for
    putting your lifes on the line to keep us
    safe. The military personel should be getting
    payed a lot more also, poverty sucks.

    January 1, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Roman, Butler PA

    I AM the Alpha and Omega.

    January 1, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Nita S.

    ...And to 'me', who was too cowardly to use their real name!, GET A GRIP!!! Whether or not a trained, paid firefighter, or srevice person, these people STILL risk their lives to do what they do! And YOU, the child of a firefighter, shud know that better than most! How DARE u try to demean what they do, just bcuz they get paid to do it! They r heroes nonetheless! Its sour, crude people like u that drag down the spirit of helping others! If ur house was burning, and a 3ft wall of snow, 2 blocks long, stood between u and help, I'd bet u'd be screaming for those HEROES to come save u, WOULDNT you?

    January 1, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melanie

      Well said Nita! "Me" is exactly the type of person who will slam people and yet scream for their help the minute things go wrong. My husband is an on-call (volunteer) firefighter and he would be the last person to call himself a hero. It's tough, working his regular 40 hrs a week, going to college at night to be an EMT and still attending all Fire Department trainings and any calls they get on top of that. He doesn't complain though, helping others is just who he is. Just who ALL EMS personnel are, FF, EMTs, police. They don't do it to be heroes, they do it to help others. They do it because it's a calling they feel the need to answer. Instead of getting on CNN complaining, maybe all you naysayers should go down to your local fire department or police department and just say "Thanks". Because what would you do if you called and no one came?

      January 2, 2011 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  12. Marine Sgt

    I'm a disabled veteran from the Marine Corps
    and I think its horrible that our firefighters
    and police officers, and our military personel
    get payed below poverty for risking our lives
    for this great country. Wake up congress and
    start taking care of those that protect you
    with there lives. Thank you Firefighters,
    Police officers, and Military personel.
    You all deserve a lot more.

    January 1, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. greed is good

    Most firefighters are lucky to have gotten those jobs in the first place. You can take a middle school drop out and teach him/her how to charge a burning bldg and swing a firehose. What I mean is that it relates to supply and demand there is a larger supply of people willing and able to take on the challenges of being a firefighter than there is demand for those people. 15-30 dollars/hr I more than enough. Municipal workers are spoiled crybabies more often than not.

    January 1, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • CindyInVT

      Seems many don't bother to read an article before they make comments: These Neptune, NJ firefighters were VOLUNTEERS. That means, they don't get paid. Hello.

      January 1, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • nate

      To "me" and "greed is good" I am a volunteer firefighter and comments like yours explain why our country is how it currently is BC people like you with no education apparently open your mouths and speak. You maybe passed middle school but your to damn scared to take on any of the aforementioned public safety positions. In fact they probably couldn't pay you enough BC your to scared. GOD BLESS our police firefighters and military personnel who protect our country that unfortunately contains to many morens like you two

      January 1, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • A J

      How does one 'swing a firehose' exactly? In all my years in the fire service I have yet to see this phenomenon you speak of. Now, I have seen firefighters swing an axe. As for training a middle school dropout to do this job, please share your facts that led to this conclusion. Something tells me your career involves the phrases "Does this complete your order?", and "Please pull forward to the second window."

      January 1, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • mary

      Cindy and Nate are right, "me:, :who:, "greed is good" and others, are idiots, these are volunteers, they are not municipal emplyees, they are not paid (sometimes a small stipend to pay for clothing and equipment), Do you not get the VOLUNTEER part? I guess, me, who, and greed do nothing for others. I have volunteered as an EMT for 22 years, donating hundreds of thousands of hours to my community without compensation other than getting my training for free

      January 1, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Who? Me?

      Wow Nate, are you really talking about someone else's education? (your, to, moren????) really??

      January 1, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Engr1

      "I have a MBA from Harvard and btw did 3 tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan." HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA (ad infinitum). If you even graduated from middle school, I'd be surprised. For your own information, pull up any fire department's pre-requisites to read exactly what their requirements are and what their training entails. Something tells me you didn't make the cut when you applied.

      January 1, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John , Lansing MI

    To *me*: grow some, and use your real name, so we can all point and laugh when you walk by! These VOLUNTEER firefighters, and neighbors, helped WITHOUT PAY, WITHOUT TRAINING for some of them, and without selfishness! Most volunteer firefighters have regular paid, full time jobs, and families that rely on them, yet they give of themselves and their time, to help in their community! Open your mouth and insert foot 'me'! These CITIZENS didnt have to do what they did. THEY CHOSE TO, out of the goodness of their hearts! As far as the slap to military personnel, we never know when we'll be called to the line...even in times of peace. There are plenty of things the armed forces personnel do, out of the public eye, that John Q. Public doesnt know about, that aid in disaster relief all over the world. Praise these men and women for their sacrifice, and that of their families.

    January 1, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tina

      well said, john

      January 2, 2011 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
  15. Roman, Butler PA

    To Sirius, Im bad at spelling. But, I am the Truth. The Book of Life has your name in it.

    January 1, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tina

      Mark Twain once said," It is better to remain silent and bethought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt." You've spoke. There is no doubt.

      January 2, 2011 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
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