CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - On Sept. 11, 2001 following the tragic World Trade Center incident, Charlottesville firefighters were lining up to assist in New York City. Like many fire departments across the country, it was difficult to restrain them. Everyone wanted to help, but understood that self...
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Photo courtesy of Charlottesville FD
New York City firefighters were honored at the University of Virginia's homecoming football game and received a check for $250,000 to aid the families of firefighters lost at the World Trade Center. Representing the FDNY were, from left, Firefighters Rich Amthor and Joe Gildea and Lieutenants Jimmy Milone and Charlie Noteworthy.
The next step in "doing something" was to inform the Virginia Department of Emergency Management what resources that were available from the department. The Charlottesville Fire Department offered an engine company and will continue to stand ready to respond if and when needed. Very quickly, a list of approximately 25 firefighters' names were on a list to fill four slots to deploy on short notice and spend up to two weeks in New York.
That wasn't enough. Discussions continued throughout the fire stations about what to do for the fallen brother and sister firefighters in New York.
The first thing was to erect a memorial which consisted of a sign which read "God Bless America and FDNY," a pair of boots and two fire department T-shirts tied together at the sleeve (a Charlottesville and an FDNY shirt).
The memorial quickly grew and money started coming in without any request. But that wasn't enough. On Sept. 13, Charlottesville and Albemarle firefighters (career and volunteer) along with the Charlottesville and Albemarle Professional Firefighters Associations, started "boot" drives to collect money. The first day was expressed by many firefighters as the most inspiring experience of their lives.
Photo courtesy of Charlottesville FD
Charlottesville Fire Chief Julian Taliaferro, center, joins local and New York City firefighters at a memorial site.
"People were literally throwing money at us," said a captain from the Albemarle Fire-Rescue Department. The firefighters at all intersections were having the same results, literally thousands of dollars per hour. A goal of $25,000 was set. Each day, the totals increased in unbelievable amounts. The first day $42,000, the second $80,000, and the third day over $100,000. Eventually, the total exceeded $300,000.
The fire departments chose to use the "New York Firefighters Fire 9-11 Relief Fund" as the fund of choice. This fund has been established by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and is partnered on the Firehouse.com website.
The interaction with the public was so overwhelming, many firefighters had to stop (while collecting with boots) and cry. School buses with high school students stopped and all of them giving what they had in their pockets. One night, a little girl got up on table and sang the national anthem for firefighters at a steakhouse. People stood and cheered and no firefighter was left with a dry eye.
One woman gave the Charlottesville Fire Department her flag from her honored husbands World War II American flag to fly at a fire station. Another woman gave firefighters a large family flag which has been flown every day high from the department's aerial ladder. The fire department is being requested at many new functions as never before.
In an overwhelming gesture of kindness, Carl Smith, a University of Virginia (UVA) alumnus, sent his private jet to bring four FDNY firefighters to the homecoming football game on Sept. 29. UVA produced a pre-game show that honored firefighters from the FDNY and the Charlottesville area. This allowed the community to participate in the ceremony and see local firefighters give a check for $250,000 to the four from New York. While four were flown down, 20 more were ready to come.
The FDNY members flown in were Lieutenant Charlie Noteworthy and Firefighter Joe Gildea of Ladder 15 and Lieutenant Jimmy Milone and Firefighter Rich Amthor of Engine 4. As the men from FDNY walked onto the field, the audience roared with applause and stood for a full ovation. Next, "America the Beautiful" was sung and Charlottesville Fire Department Ladder 1 raised its aerial with the U.S. flag waving in the breeze.
UVA head football coach Al Groh said, "We cannot and will not let anyone forget what they sacrificed in New York and what our local firefighters risk everyday."
During the weekend that followed the football game, Charlottesville and Albemarle firefighters mingled with the four from FDNY.
"I didn't realize the effect this tragedy had on me, and when I had a chance to make these guys laugh, I felt that I was able to do something on a personal level," said Charlottesville Firefighter Gary Whiting. Many times, the Charlottesville firefighters just listened to their FDNY colleague' stories about the World Trade Center tragedy.
"I never understood the camaraderie that exists between firefighters, but I do now," said UVA football representative Gerry Capone.
Noteworthy added, "The experience in Charlottesville was overwhelming and it's difficult to put into words. We were treated like kings and we felt like we were walking on air. Everyone was great; the community, UVA athletics and the firefighters." Asked how the firefighters were doing, he replied, "We're taking it one day at a time. We lost 14 guys from our firehouse and it's very tough. We are going to funerals and that is sad, but we'll get through this and we'll be stronger."
This event highlights the camaraderie that exists between firefighters everywhere. More importantly, it recognizes the sacrifice that these valiant men and women made to save thousands of lives and to note that their deaths were not in vain. Now more than ever, local communities and the country are looking to firefighters to lead the way through these times of sadness and uncertainty. There has never been a time in history when a firefighter's role has been so important.
That being said, it is imperative that every member of the fire service understand that they must do their best. Doing your best serves to honor the profession and those that have made the ultimate sacrifice. This is the worst time and the greatest time to be a firefighter.
Deputy Chief Charles Werner
CYNTHIANA, KY - Bullard has stepped up to help in the relief efforts following the terrorist attacks in New York. The privately held company has contributed thermal imagers, hard hats, rescue helmets and air-quality products to aid in recovery efforts. The commercial value of these products is more than $175,000.
"The task facing the rescue and recovery workers at the World Trade Center and at the Pentagon is both enormous and horrendous," Bullard President and CEO Richard C. Miller said. "We at Bullard felt it was important to provide these people with the appropriate equipment that would help keep them safe."
To respond rapidly to the needs for its equipment, Bullard personnel from both the office and the production facility joined together to produce, package and ship the donated products within 24 hours.
FAIRFAX, VA - The Nike Corp. partnered with the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) to conduct a special "Run Across America" to benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and a national police survivors' foundation in recognition of the contributions of America's first responders following the Sept. 11 incidents.
The run, which began on Oct. 11, at the Astoria, OR, Fire Department, primarily used Nike runners and staff in a cross-country relay, ending each day's run at a specified fire station until the team was scheduled to reach New York City on Nov. 21. In all, the Nike team were to visit 43 fire stations across the country.
Major stops along the way were to include visits to Somerset County, PA; the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, MD; the Pentagon in Arlington, VA; and finally Ground Zero in Manhattan.
Throughout the Run Across America, the Nike team was expecting to cover approximately 90 miles per day in nine-mile increments running 10 teams of two runners apiece.
All participating fire departments along the run route were encouraged to join with their local law enforcement counterparts to welcome the runners in any way they wish. The stops included everything from high school bands to groups of schoolchildren, local fire and police personnel, town mayors and local civic groups - many bearing homemade banners of welcome and encouragement - and numerous American flags.
Some departments with running groups have joined the Nike runners for the final segment into their towns and many departments have also provided road support with department apparatus escorting the runners between calls.
Fundraising for the event became a local activity as well. Each of the 43 fire departments received $500 in "seed money" from Nike to use as their community donation, or to help support additional fundraising activities.
Photo courtesy of Pembroke Pines FD
Captain Todd Colligan of the City of Pembroke Pines, FL, Fire Department collects donations to aid victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
PEMBROKE PINES, FL - Local firefighters were out in full force to collect money for a firefighter relief fund to assist the families of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. More than $60,000 in donations poured into the City of Pembroke Pines Fire Department during the collection campaign.
Assistant Fire Marshal David Raines
LAS VEGAS - More than 900 students at Walter Jacobson Elementary School presented give a check to members of Las Vegas Fire & Rescue to be sent to the families of the fallen firefighters in New York City. The children collected the money over a five-day period. On a Monday, a collection was held throughout the school collecting only pennies. On Tuesday, it was nickels, Wednesday dimes, Thursday quarters and on Friday dollar bills.
When the week was over, the children had collected $5,418.62. The children then contacted Las Vegas Fire & Rescue to arrange for the deliver of the money to New York City. The ceremony was held on the school's playground with city and fire officials on hand.
PIO Timothy R. Szymanski
YORK COUNTY, PA - The West Manchester Township Fire Department, York County, PA, has collected $30,000 through a "Fill The Boot" campaign on the streets of our fire district toward the 9-11 Disaster Fund. The West York Area School District was campaigning to students and families to increase our fund before it was forwarded to the FDNY.
Assistant Chief Doug Eash
OCALA, FL - As a result of the tragic losses on Sept. 11, Emergency One Inc. is donating a rescue vehicle that will be utilized as a decontamination unit to FDNY. The 19-foot E-One extruded aluminum rescue body will be mounted on a Freightliner FL80 two-door cab/chassis that is being donated by Freightliner Trucks. Other E-One supplier partners are supporting this effort with relevant donations, including:
- Alcoa Inc.
- Akzo Nobel/Sikkens
- Havis-Shields Equipment Corp.
- The Will-Burt Co.
- Federal Signal Safety Products
- Class 1
- ROM Corp.
- Winco Power Systems
- The Braun Corp.
"Our collective gift will never match the sacrifices offered by emergency service personnel on September 11," said Jay Johnson, vice president of marketing for E-One. "We are honored to be able to at least assist FDNY with rebuilding their equipment fleet and only wish we could fill the true void created by those who paid the ultimate price on that day."
PITTSBURGH - Draeger Safety Inc. provided an immediate response to those in need after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
Draeger personnel traveled with four truckloads of equipment via police escort to a site near Rockefeller Park, NY. There, the Draeger employees - experts trained in the use and maintenance of Draeger equipment, including self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), closed-circuit breathing equipment, thermal imaging cameras, personnel protective products and the components necessary to support these items. The Draeger team provided around-the -clock assistance to the terrorism response agencies of the federal government as well as local firefighters, police and other responders.
Rob McCall, Draeger's director operations, said, "Among some of the products we have sent to the site is breathing equipment for rescue and recovery. With this special type of gear, the rescue efforts can be extended in the hopes of quicker recovery and clean-up."
In an appreciate e-mail received by the company, it was learned that a person escaped his Lower Manhattan apartment only two blocks from the World Trade Center, thanks to one of the company's hooded escape masks, a Parat C, that he had purchased earlier.
Ferrara To Manufacture "The Spirit Of Louisiana"
HOLDEN, LA - Gov. M.J. "Mike" Foster has announced that Louisiana-based Ferrara Fire Apparatus Inc. will donate time to build a pumper for the FDNY, christened "The Spirit of Louisiana."
"This shows the true spirit of Louisiana," Foster said, "that we pull together as Americans in this time of need." The FDNY lost many fire apparatus and ambulances when the World Trade Center's twin towers fell, and he added, "We hope Louisiana is the first to give them a new truck on Christmas Day."
Foster announced the creation of the "Buck$ for Fire Truck$" program, which hopes to raise $500,000 to build the pumper to New York's stringent specifications. The fundraising effort includes schools, private business drives, retail outlets and firefighter solicitations.
Chris Ferrara, the company's president and CEO, said his employees have already asked to donate time to help build the truck.
"They want Louisiana to be the first to give New York its new fire engine," he said. "With their help, some extra shifts and shuffling some projects, we can deliver 'The Spirit of Louisiana' on Christmas Day."
Information about the project can be found at the company's website, www.ferrarafire.com, where details about the campaign as well as production photos, press releases and status reports will be available. The Louisiana State Firemen's Association is collecting tax-deductible donations, which can be sent to: LSFA Buck$ for Fire Truck$, P.O. Box 1671, Gretna, LA 70054.