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New FDNY disaster simulator dedicated to Deputy Chief Raymond Downey, who was killed on 9/11

New FDNY simulator helps members train for complicated rescues
New FDNY simulator helps members train for complicated rescues 02:24

NEW YORK -- The FDNY has a brand new way to train its members for some of the most complicated rescues.

The simulator was dedicated Thursday to a beloved member of the department who made the ultimate sacrifice on 9/11.

At first glance, the enormous pile of rubble looks like the latest disaster in New York City with the broken fuselage of a plane, crushed cars and piles of concrete, but the firefighters feverishly working the scene are training at the FDNY Fire Academy.

"Possibly somebody's under there. They're trying to get them out. They're in a confined space," FDNY Battalion Chief Joe Downey explained.

Downey showed CBS2's Andrea Grymes the newest training site -- each piece of rubble meticulously placed to simulate several different real-life disasters.

"Here they got a parking garage collapse with heavy concrete. We have a blind shaft elevator. We get that all the time where somebody's stuck in the elevator shaft," Downey said.

The training site includes a real plane that was no longer being used, moved to the site from Kennedy Airport. Thousands of FDNY members will train there every year, particularly members of special operations.

You could say responding to situations like these is in the Downey family's blood. The battalion chief's brother, Chuck Downey, is deputy chief of the fire academy, and their father was special operations deputy chief Raymond Downey, affectionately known as the "master of disaster," an expert on building collapses and technical rescues. He served not only here, but across the country when called upon, including after the Oklahoma City bombing. Raymond Downey had 39 years in the FDNY when he was killed on 9/11.

"He was extremely knowledgeable and determined and a staunch believer of our training. He cared deeply for the safety of his members and for the public he served," said John Hodgens, acting chief of department for the FDNY.

Thursday, colleagues and family gathered as one pile of rubble was officially named the Deputy Chief Raymond M. Downey All-Hazards Disaster Training Site.

His widow told CBS2 it's an "unbelievable" honor.

"He would say this was too much for him. Very proud," Rosalie Downey said.

A dedication to training and, more than 20 years later, to never forget.

We're told just about everything on the new training site was donated.

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