The Harlem Department of Public Safety helped its firefighting peers devastated by Hurricane Sandy by donating equipment last week.
The department gave about 20 sets of firefighting turnout gear – including coats, pants, helmets, hoods and gloves – and numerous individual items
to the Georgia chapter of the Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund.
Farrell was a New York City firefighter killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The fund assists firefighters and their families with educational, medical and equipment needs.
“Most of it is brand new,” Harlem fire Capt. Kevin Stokes said, but just too old to use based on National Fire Protection Agency standards.
“It would be different if you had gear that
has seen a bunch of fire and was all torn up. … A lot of this has never been in fire,” he said.
Stokes was listening to the operations frequencies of fire departments in New York and New Jersey when Hurricane Sandy made landfall Oct. 29.
“The stations got washed out,” he said. “Gear, radios, pagers, trucks, all of it. They are literally at square one. They don’t have anything.”
Mike Korsch, the director of Georgia’s Terry Farrell chapter, said the equipment will go to Long Beach, N.Y., and other small communities along the barrier islands in Suffolk and Nassau counties.
In those areas, Korsch said, entire fire stations were washed away.
“There’s barrier islands out there that have their own police departments, fire departments,” Korsch said. “They were wiped out. It was almost like a tsunami for them. It really wasn’t even a flood. It came in so quick on them.
“We’re talking about a 30-mile stretch and there were five fire departments that were totally wiped out.”
Emergency personnel still have to respond to fires and other emergencies in those areas but are having to manage with minimal and donated
equipment – when there is any at all.
Korsch said the Roswell Fire Department donated an engine, and he plans to put the equipment donated by Harlem on that engine, which is headed for Long Island this week.
Stokes said it is difficult to donate equipment because of liability issues. Korsch said the Farrell
fund removes the liability from the donating department.
Korsch is still looking for more equipment to send to New York – anything from trucks and ladders to wrenches and exhaust fans.
“They lost everything,” Korsch said. “Every donation we take goes back to the firefighters.”
For more information or to make a donation, visit www.terryfund.org.