Valley firefighters give 'the boot' for New York

An idea sparked Wednesday afternoon in Douglas County may reach across the U.S.

East Fork firefighter Robert Lekumberry said the district and the International Association of Firefighters Union local 3726 will begin at 8 a.m. today raising money to help firefighters in New York.

"We're trying to determine what the needs for firefighters are," Lekumberry said. "We don't know if they need family relief or what, we just don't know what their need is."

As of Wednesday, more than 202 firefighters were unaccounted for after the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

"We want to go to the public and see what we can do about getting some support for the New York firefighters, whatever support they might need," Lekumberry said.

Firefighters met Wednesday evening to determine just how they would collect money and decided they would "put the boot out" at Scolari's Market in Gardnerville beginning at 8 a.m. today. Putting the boot out, is firefighter for passing the hat.

Issuing a challenge within its volunteer departments to donate at least $100 each, they extended the challenge throughout the region to include the Carson City Fire Department and others.

"We want to challenge Carson City, Reno, Incline Village, all of our neighboring departments to do the same," he said.

Lekumberry said today's collection may be the beginning of many.

He said to look for the fire engine or other firefighting apparatus at Scolaris.

"We take our turnout boots and set them out and let people know what the cause is, " he said.

Firefighter/paramedic Tracy Connelly said he and coworker Troy Valenzuela were attending the National Fire Academy in Maryland at the end of August and decided to drive to New York on a weekend off.

"We wanted to visit the Rescue 3 station in the Bronx because it is very famous," he said. "So we drove around until we found 'Big Blue' and those guys just opened their arms to us as brother firefighters. We went on about six calls with them."

Connelly said Rescue 3 is one the departments that responded to Tuesday's disaster.

"Their company's main function on any type of fire is rescue, so they would have been right up on those floors doing rescues and evacuations," Connelly said.

He said the firefighters have been following the story with the rest of the country.

"It kind of hits home for me. I met a lot of those guys and I feel just devastated," he said. "I'll start crying if I keep talking."

What: New York Firefighters Relief Fund

Stop by: Scolaris, 1329 Highway 395 in Gardnerville

Mail donations to: East Fork Firefighter and Paramedic District, P.O. Box 218, Minden, Nev., 89423

Money can also be deposited directly at Bank of America: Account No. 004964150966


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