If you’ve ever walked through New York City’s iconic Grand Central Terminal, you’re familiar with the high green ceilings, the crowds of people and the massive network of smelly underground train platforms that shuttle thousands in and out of the city. Now imagine the nightmare if a fire broke out.
(Editor’s Note: Justin Gets A Real Job was inspired by Justin’s family, who don’t think reviewing cars counts as a real job and are concerned about his chances in other fields should he ever have to get off his “lazy ass” and “do some actual work.” To find out if Justin can do any work, the editorial team at Jalopnik have decided to let him explore new roles he may find to be a better fit if he has any talent at all. This episode was filmed before the Covid-19 pandemic in October of 2019.)
Grand Central Terminal is the third busiest train terminal in the North America, parked right in the middle of Manhattan. It ferries hundreds of thousands of people daily from across the region in and out of the biggest city in America, from above ground trains across 60 platforms into the city’s subway network.
There’s a lot going on in there, and to make sure there is somebody actively thinking about what to do when a fire breaks out in one of the largest underground structures in the country, I visited the Grand Central Terminal Fire Brigade — a specialized firefighting unit off Track 14 with its own unique fleet of electric response vehicles.
My “day on the job” with officer Andrew Seicol ran me through the paces of the daily challenges of preventing and confronting emergencies in such a vast labyrinthine complex like Grand Central Terminal. I tried on the 60-pound outfit, played with some of the toys, and responded to an actual call that interrupted our shoot.
With 49 acres to manage, it’s incredibly obvious why the station needs its own bespoke unit, which even specified the customized emissions-free Taylor-Dunn B-248 electric carts to accommodate their unique first-responder needs.
As big and dramatic as an icon like New York City’s Grand Central Terminal can seem, it’s the small team working 24 hours, seven days a week to put out the little fires who really keep the trains running on time.