by Bill Demarest
To members of the Nyack Fire Department, the faces of the 19 Arizona firefighters who died fighting a massive wildfire on June 30 aren’t much different from those of the volunteers who turn out for emergency calls right here every day.
The deaths of the Granite Mountain Hotshots—an elite team specially trained to battle wildfires—stunned the nation, which has not seen such a loss of life among crews battling wildfires since 1933. For firefighters, it was a tragedy of almost unimaginable proportions—only surpassed in recent times by the loss of 343 firefighters in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center.
“We can’t even imagine what their families are going through,” said Nyack volunteer firefighter Mike Packes. “We were talking about it, and we decided that we had to do something to help them.”
In the wake of the Arizona deaths, Packes
and other Nyack firefighters are waging a campaign to urge local residents to contribute toward funds dedicated to supporting those left behind by the 19 fallen firefighters.
Coordinated by Nyack’s Jackson Hose Co. No. 3 on Park Street in Nyack, Nyack’s volunteers are asking residents to make donations directly to—
United Phoenix Firefighter’s Association,
Attention: Granite Mountain Donations,
61 E. Columbus, Phoenix, AZ 85012.
Packes said that Jackson Hose Co. No. 3 is also collecting any donations that residents might want to give to the fire department so they can be sent to Arizona. Local donations can be dropped off from 8am to 5pm weekdays at Packes’ business, All Phase Automotive, located a half-block away from Jackson Hose at 30-34 New St., Nyack.
Packes said financial contributions for the families of the 19 fallen firefighters are urgently needed. However, he said donations of other items such as toys and baby supplies for the children of the firefighters are also being accepted. Packes said that he will arrange for shipment of any such donations to Arizona as they are made locally.