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. Jeff Frank

    Why are some individuals on any of these blog offerings on CNN, hell bent on character assassinations of other people and CNN using foul language or foul insinuations.
    Please refer to the comment policy since CNN owns this site and not us. If you can't read it, have someone read it to you.
    If you don't like or agree with this...please go somewhere else. I enjoy reading comments of people, that have a positive note or contribution, whether it appears good or bad. I don't turn around and perform a character assassination with cussing at the individual or making a hostile comment or insinuation toward that individual.
    I apologize if I may have stepped on someones toes in the past.
    But CNN – Your not blameless either. Either get a handle on the animals, or your going to be one blogger less. Then you can fish for "good legitimate comments" elsewhere, beings we're "not compensated in any way" for our individual or collective views.
    I might be back. I've have things to do now.

    January 2, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. phil

    Ahhh, it's Jeff the Frank! I hope you understand that when I refer to you in this manner, it is only because I admire your being lierally frank with us. I don't always agree with you, but I do admire your frankness. I will refrain from doing so from this day forward Jeff Frank. And my apologies to you sir.

    January 2, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cold!

    Looks like those poor folks could have used this list of things to do while you are snowed in:

    January 2, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy


    Snow has rained all of NYE with temps in the 50's. Crazy weather, as you can tell by all the stories.

    I agree with you and Jeff Frank: character assassination is very easy when one hides behind anonymity. Thank God the grown ups can see through all that!

    January 2, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Greed is Good

    Phil volunteers aside Firefighters make too much in the first place. Municipal workers are overpaid in our cities. There is a large line of men/woman waiting to sign up for these jobs so the pay would reflect this large supply of people willing and able to do this job. So microeconomics from your highschool class would tell you that gov't jobs such as fireman don't accurately portray a similar scenario in the private sector. I often drive by the fire dept in my city and see the men sitting in lawn chairs. Its not a hard job the world has been fighting fires for centuries. Come on fireman you guys are not special. Just little boys still trying to figure out what it is you want to do when you get older.

    January 2, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      @greed I know only two groups of people that has the nerve and gall to criticizes the insignificance of another person's job and feel other people's salary is too much: the unemployed and the retired. You need to place you jealous, limited-income, arrogance under the nearest rock...and stop kicking the cans of service employees when they come to wait on your ungrateful a-zz!

      January 2, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      I'm not a racist but if I had to profile you...I would be looking for a ole, cranky, white, geezer...with a superiority complex, yep!

      January 2, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Greed is Good

    I.E. In the private sector we earn for wht we produce, while on the opposite hand fire fighters earn regardless there is no incentive just a salary for hanging out waiting for a fire. What's all the rant about Loggers provide us with a needed service, so do cell tower workers, fisherman, Marines, race car drivers. You guys provide a needed service don't expect an atta boy. Volunteers aside.

    January 2, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mr Nice

    Do what you have to.

    January 2, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. phil

    A n old friend of mine has been with the fire dept. in Ft. Worth,TX for over 35 years. He hardly goes out on calls, he cooks. That, and he has an old wooden boat he is restoring at the firehouse. He owns a 100,000 dollar yacht, a million dollar home, and about 20 cars, trucks, and recreational vehicles. Yes, he risked his life many times to save ours. But haven't many of us done the same in our occupational course of duty? I know that I myself have personally risked my life on many occassions helping to save lives when things went south while drilling for oil and natural gas, not to mention it was done so you could put gas in yourfiretruck and ambulance. Should I recieve extra praise? You can if you want, but I already got paid and knew the risks going in. And you will never see an old man on a drilling rig fixing his boat on company time, or just doing the cooking. If he's on location, he's working.

    January 2, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. phil

    Another amusing story about firetrucks...One day a few decades ago, my youngest brother ran into the house yelling "Hey Philip, there's a pit-bull attacking a little girl outside !" So I slipped on my boots and ran outside wearing nothing but my boxer shorts. I kicked the dog as hard as I could to get it off the girl. The dog turned on me, and latched on to my left knee. (i still have the scars) Long story short, within a matter of minutes there were 3 squad cars, an Emergency vehicle, and a firetruck! on the scene. (the dog catchers arrived at last) Now, why was a firetuck called out on a man vs. dog situation? In case sparks flew from the dog's mouth and started a fire? You rarely see with your own eyes a firetruck actually fighting a fire.(other than on TV) You do see them parked in front of apartments and homes where there are no fires, where the 911 call was for a drug-overdose most commonly. Why is that?

    January 2, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • VA FF

      Wouldn't you like to have some extra backup on that kind of incident scene? The system isn't failing. I'll be back home around Monday at 5..oh wait nevermind I have to teach a Firefighter I course without about Tuesday at 5? Call me and we will discuss it. E-mail me and I will give you my number.

      January 5, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  10. phil

    And another one: I was in San Diego a couple of years ago, and two fires broke out east and north-east of the city. You may recall, over 600,000 people were evacuated, some of them like myself, twice. The fire threatened this little valley with several luxury vacation homes, one of them belonging to a fire chief. Now, there is a man who for years has been trying to get fire dept's to try out his little invention. When we drill for oil in environmentally sensitive locations, we oftentimes drill with foam rather than heavy mud to prevent contamination of the local water. This man took this general idea, and made for himself a foam-generator that was on a trailer towed by a pick-up truck, and sneaked up this little valley and covered the fire Chief's "cabin" with a foam slurry. Every single structure in that valley burned to the ground except one, the Chief's place. Now you would think fire departments nationwide would be very interested in this machine, but they barely give this man the time-of-day. Why?

    January 2, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ronbo

    What does it matter anyway? Were all going to end up in the ground eventually so who gives a crap what or who anybody is. Do your time and make room for the next air breather. Next...

    January 2, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. phil

    Actually it was a few years ago, I said a "couple". Time stands still, people fly by. And to be fair, the Chief's place did suffer smoke damage. This foam is made from inert ingredients, you can eat it and not suffer ill health nor die.(unless you ate it every day, even then it's safer than eating bacon-cheezburger's every day) Thought I should point that out before people started ragging on me.

    January 2, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Big Snapper

    January 2, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. banasy

    The fire fighters in said story were volunteers...and even if they were paid, they have to clear the area so they COULD fight a fire in case one broke out! What is so difficult to understand about this story?
    Whatever one thinks about fire fighters, we need them! Stop all the baloney and just say THANKS, for heaven's sake!

    What is WRONG with people? What should be a feel-good article turns into a hate-fest of firemen? Jeez, people, have some compassion-better yet-have some class!

    January 2, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. phil

    Banasy, my posts were not meant to be critical of firemen themselves, just the system they work under. It is failing just like our other systems are. And I waited until the board went silent, after everyone had pretty much had their say. We need a new system and we need it badly.

    January 2, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
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