Photos and report by Ron Jeffers
“It’s all about the Brotherhood,” said Ridgefield (NJ) Deputy Fire Chief Dave Brierty. On the afternoon of July 15, 2019, borough officials, volunteer firefighters, and local residents assembled at Engine and Rescue Co. 2’s firehouse to meet officials representing the Republic of Greece and offer their generosity.
Members of the fire department gathered some out-of-date firefighting turnout gear (according to New Jersey standards) to donate to an agency in need in Greece. This included turnout coats and bunker pants, boots, hoods, helmets, and gloves.
The mayor of the municipality of Chios, Manolis Vournous, was on hand to thank the New Jersey officials for their donations to the Volunteer Forestry Fire Association.
The connections between Ridgefield and Mesta Chios are local. Ridgefield Councilman Jim Kontolios comes from the Greek town, and there are residents of the borough that came from that area or have relatives there.
Deputy Chief Brierty said local officials had heard that the Greek firefighters have been fighting fires without proper gear and equipment. They have been battling fires in civilian clothes. The gear may be outdated by local standards, but can still be useful in protecting fellow fighters in another country.
Mayor Vournous said he has a goal of obtaining appropriate equipment for his firefighters. He also was honored by the caring people on “the other side of the ocean.” The mayor said he understood the brotherhood of firefighters, even “a half-a-world away.” The “connection with Ridgefield is important.”
Representatives from the Borough of Ridgefield, including Council President Russel Castelli, Bergen County, and the state were on hand for the ceremony. They exchanged proclamations and small gifts.
“True Brotherhood expands worldwide,” said Deputy Chief Brierty.
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