Veteran Airport Firefighter in Charlotte for Disaster Prep

As Hurricane Florence approaches, one of Pittsburgh’s own stands ready to help; Airport Operations prepares to accept aircraft  

By Bob Kerlik

Published September 13, 2018

Read Time: 2 mins


Firefighter Guido Girimonti is a veteran first responder to some of the nation’s worst disasters, including New York after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy and the earthquake in Haiti.

So as Hurricane Florence bears down on North Carolina, it comes as no surprise that the 62-year-old Girimonti has been in Charlotte since Tuesday as part of an emergency response team connected to the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Other personnel from the Allegheny County Airport Authority are on standby should they be needed.

“Right now, we’re making sure all the teams in the field have the equipment they need and getting supplies to the teams,” Girimonti, of Clinton, Washington County, said. “We expect a lot of water damage. The problem with this storm is that it’s getting wider and wider.”

Specifically, he’s handling logistics to ensure that evacuation centers are ready with supplies throughout North Carolina and Virginia.

“We’re just doing our job. It’s a challenge and when the outcome is good, it’s that much better,” Girimonti said. “We’re not heroes. It’s our wives and families that put up with us that are the heroes.”

Girimonti regularly teaches the Incident Command System, a federal system used to help multiple agencies manage disasters and other large-scale events, and other courses at the FAA Regional Aircraft Rescue and Fire Training Facility at Pittsburgh International Airport.

Operations Manager Jeff Miller said the airport is ready to accept any aircraft from impacted cities including Myrtle Beach, Charlotte, Charleston, Raleigh-Durham and others that may need to be re-positioned due to the storm.

“We’ve been checking with everyone who has a presence (in the storm’s path),” Miller said.

The airport was a shelter for numerous aircraft during Hurricane Irene in 2008 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Miller doesn’t anticipate many in-flight diversions because most of the flights in the storm’s path have already been canceled.

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