The Island Park Volunteer Fire Department in New York lost just about all of its fire apparatus during Super Storm Sandy.
But Monday, the Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department, which also serves Arlington County, helped its volunteer fire department brethren on Long Island put their firehouse back together.
The volunteer fire company, which is on the Falls Church-Arlington County border, is taking a 2002 Freightliner/Medic Master reserve ambulance that had been up for sale and instead giving it to the company in Long Island.
“It was the day after Sandy went through and I saw on a fire blog that several fire departments on Long Island lost apparatus,” Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department spokesman Frank Bellavia said. “I knew this was for sale, so I said, 'Why not donate it?'”
Chief Paul Schomburg and department President Ian Weston set off for Long Island on Monday morning to deliver the ambulance. Schomburg said the donation would not affect how the department responds to emergencies here. The Arlington County Fire Department, which shares Station 6 with the FCVFD, has loaned an ambulance to the volunteers and they have a backup of their own, Schomburg said. The department is only donating the ambulance, not the medical equipment needed to serve patients.
The medic unit arrived in Falls Church in 2002 and for six years it served as the front-line medic unit for the FCVFD. For the last four years, the vehicle served as a reserve unit before going up for sale.
At about 8:25 a.m. Monday, FCVFD medic unit 106 thundered out of Station 6 for the last time and with it, lots of memories from the more than 9,000 emergency calls it took on. Schomburg was behind the wheel for the five-hour trip to deliver an old friend to its new home.
“This was our front-line medic unit for six years,” said Schomburg, who says the department is working getting a new ambulance within a year. “It’s just a plethora of calls we’ve been on in this vehicle. It has been a trustworthy friend.”
Weston, a paramedic with the FCVFD, has spent countless hours in medic unit 106. One of his greatest memories in the ambulance is driving around in “Snowmaggedon,” responding to emergency calls. He said the vehicle is a great piece of equipment but the volunteer firefighters in Island Park are very happy to receive it.
“Probably a little piece of me is going up there, too,” Weston said.