BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — In 2000, actor Denis Leary started The Leary Firefighters Foundation after a tragic Worcester, Mass., fire killed his cousin, a childhood friend and four others.
On Thursday, the Bridgeport Fire Department was the beneficiary of the foundation’s longtime largesse — this time in the form of a much-needed fire safety truck.
“We’re ecstatic,” said Fire Chief Richard Thode. “We’re over the moon that we got this.”
The new truck, valued at $35,000, replaces “an old Suburban” the department used to use to transport supplies they need to tend to firefighters’ safety at blazes, Thode said.
The department actually had a fire on board that vehicle in the past year, he said.
The new truck is outfitted for the department’s round-the-clock safety officers, who are responsible for training, drills and the safety at fire scenes.
Battalion Chief David Morkal of the New York Fire Department, who worked on the Bridgeport department’s request with the foundation, was on hand to pass the truck to its new owners.
“I was very impressed with all the steps they had taken” to present a strong case for their request, he said.
In 2010, Bridgeport Firefighters Steve Velasquez and Mitch Baik were killed in a fire. As a result of this tragedy, the Fire Department became dedicated to firefighter safety.
One of the changes that came out of the tragedy was the creation of a round-the-clock safety/training officer position.
The Leary Firefighters Foundation’s mission is to provide funding and resources for fire departments to obtain the best available equipment, technology and training.
Leary started it to create a positive out of the fire that killed his cousin, firefighter Jeremiah Lucey, and a childhood friend, Lt. Tommy Spencer, and four others.
With the city’s current hiring and spending freeze, Mayor Joe Ganim said he was happy the department could still secure the truck, which is used on all fire calls.
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