Today’s news:

Construction at Fort Hamilton Will Support Specialized Hazmat Team

There’s going to be even more construction at Fort Hamilton.

The latest addition to the Bay Ridge-situated base will be a facility to store vehicles belonging to a National Guard unit, the 24th Civil Support Team, a full-time unit with 22 members specializing in responding to chemical, biological or radiological incidents that has been in operation for about a year.

The $1.495 million structure will enable the unit’s equipment to be stored in one location, explained Lieutenant Colonel Paul Fanning, a spokesperson for the New York National Guard.

“That’s very important to us,” he stressed, in order to ensure that the equipment in stored under proper conditions. The team’s equipment, which includes “all kinds of high-tech gear,” is currently stored in various places around the base, Fanning said.

The building -- which will incorporate a temperature-controlled environment -- will take 180 days to complete, according to Fanning. The contract was awarded in late September to the Pike Company, based in Rochester, N.Y., which must assess soil conditions prior to commencing construction.

Funding for the project is being allocated through the federal military construction budget, and is being drawn from stimulus money made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed earlier this year.

“This federal stimulus money will both put New Yorkers to work and help ensure their safety and security,” remarked Governor David Paterson.

The unit is the second such unit in New York State, which was among the first 10 states in the nation to have such teams, back in the 1990s, Fanning said. While the teams’ capabilities enable them to respond to chemical, biological or radiological attacks, they are also called in when needed to respond to accidents, Fanning said, traveling as necessary to get to the locations where their expertise is needed.

Their job, he added, is to “detect, advise and facilitate in case the worst happens.”

New York State’s other Civil Support Team is located outside of Albany. When the team was first formed, Fanning said, the decision was made to headquarter it away from New York City, because, initially, “They didn’t want to base one of the teams in an area that could be attacked.”

That is no longer an issue, making the siting of such a team at Fort Hamilton a logical move.

“Even though it has been eight years since 9/11, the threat of another terrorist attack is at the forefront of every New Yorker’s mind,” remarked Representative Michael McMahon, whose district includes Fort Hamilton. “Having one emergency task force to address the needs of the entire state was not enough. This civil support team will provide the critical support needed for our city.”

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