A Proud Moment in our History

For those that are not familiar with the fire service, the term “brotherhood” is closely associated with it, but today it is a close-knit family, including both men and woman in various capacities. We could not demonstrate this in a more fitting fashion than in February of 2006.

It was August 29, 2005. The southern United States, specifically Louisiana, fell victim to one of the most destructive natural disasters. Hurricane Katrina left its mark on us all in different ways. There are those that experienced it first hand, and those of us that wanted to help.

As it is heartbreaking to see “one of our own” injured or worse, it was heartbreaking for the Slingerlands Fire Department to watch how this hurricane completely destroyed fire departments, just obliterated them, leaving just concrete slabs that once were fire stations.

At the September 2005 Department monthly meeting, the members unanimously voted to donate our 1972 Maxim Custom Pumper to a department in need. The logistics of finding a department in need was left to Gayle Griffiths. Bless this woman for just picking up the phone and directly calling the Chief of New Orleans Fire Department. She was then referred to a coordinator, who in turn directed us to the Fort Pike Fire Department, a volunteer department bordering New Orleans. To say they were grateful and elated at the prospect of receiving a pumper is an understatement.

Transportation of this “precious” cargo was another feat. A few more phone calls and that was secured. Robert H. Finke and Sons of Selkirk, New York without hesitation donated the personnel, fuel and equipment necessary to deliver the pumper to Louisiana.

The pumper was delivered in February 2006. With the support of neighboring departments, the apparatus arrived equipped with hose (North Bethlehem FD and New Salem FD) and Scott air cylinders (Elsmere FD), and with a monetary donation made possible through Albany County Rural Chief’s Association.

Two years after the dreadful day in August 2005, Louisiana is still in ruins, houses are slowly being rebuilt and lives are being pieced back together. On occasion there is an email exchanged between Fort Pike and Slingerlands. We are glad to hear that they have been able to utilize the pumper and that it is serving them well.

The fire service is unlike any other organization. During good times and during bad times we are there for each other. It is an absolute privilege to be a part of such an organization. We are honored and proud to call ourselves firefighters.