By Andrea Grymes

RARITAN BAY (CBSNewYork) – The FDNY is gearing up for a very busy season on the water.

The department answered hundreds of calls last year, and is expecting the same this year.

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CBS2’s Andrea Grymes got an inside look at how they do their job, and what you can do to stay safe.

With sunny skies ahead and calm seas around her, Grymes went on patrol with the FDNY’s Marine Division.

“We’ll help anyone from shore to shore,” said Lt. Joe Czyzewski.

(credit: CBS2)

Czyzewski and firefighter Mark Rizzuto are just two members of the department’s summer boat program, which just started for the season. It adds FDNY boats and manpower to area with lots of recreational activity, like in Raritan Bay, ready to respond to people in trouble at any moment.

“During these summer seasons, something happens every day,” Czyzewski said.

Last summer he said was perhaps the busiest ever for the department, with cooped up people itching to get out during the pandemic. A Bronx marina fire was just one of hundreds of calls they answered. They expect the same this year.

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“Broken down vessels, vessels in distress, vessels taking on water,” Czyzewski said. “People getting caught in the currents. Kayaks that get caught in the currents.”

“You hear fear in the voice of people on the radios, and you want to go out there and make a difference and effect a rescue,” Rizzuto said.

Depending on conditions, the FDNY boats can get to 50 mph, reaching a call within  minutes – or up to an hour.

(credit: CBS2)

Czyzewski warns a beautiful day can turn nasty quickly. That’s why it’s important to check the weather before heading out on the water – that’s just on thing you can do to stay safe.

“When lifeguards come off duty, come back tomorrow,” Czyzewski said. “Knowing how to call for help. Knowing where your cell phone doesn’t work. The cell phone does not have service in all of these waters.”

These firefighters are here to help this summer, but their hope is you won’t need them.

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The FDNY says another critical part of their job is working closely with the Coast Guard and the NYPD.

Andrea Grymes