Taking "Brotherhood" to the FDNY and so much more!

I knows it’s been a few days since my last post but I have to tell ya. Our trips here lately are so jam packed and emotional that, for me; it takes a couple days for everything to sink in. I want to try to absorb everything we experience before attempting to write about it. We do however try to keep everyone updated via our Face Book pages.

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This will take me a while to get out so it’s gonna a long one. I’ll spare you the pain and try to do it in 2 parts ….

Most of you know that our most recent trip had me, Rhett and Zach Green  heading back to New York City. It started out as business and ended up being so much more (as it often does with the 3 of us).  Zach called to tell me we needed to head back up and gave me the “high points” of our itinerary.

Once again, we would be stopping by FDNY’s famous Rescue 2 in Brooklyn. Read about our last visit to NYC and Rescue 2 by clicking HERE  and  HERE . I told Zach that there was NO WAY that we could go back into Rescue 2’s house empty handed after what happened to two of their members back on December 19th 2011.

Firefighters Weidmann and Gersbeck were critically injured while searching the upper floor of a brownstone fire in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Gersbeck was able to make the stairwell while Weidmann pushed through a wall of flame to reach an awaiting ladder on side “Alpha”. His unbelievable escape was caught on video… Click HERE to view the video .

Both of these members are still fighting to recover. They are fighting and suffering, their families are as well… emotionally, physically, psychologically, and financially. Rescue 2 set up a fund just for these situations … The Rescue 2 Mayday Fund. We knew right away what we needed to do .. raise some money for the fund!

We asked for donations and Zach offered to donate 50% of all online sales for the week (Mon-Mon) before our trip.  Sattter 911, Bill Carey, Firefighter Nation, Fire / EMS Blog Network and MANY others helped in promoting the effort. It was a HUGE success!

Thanks to your efforts and support, Rhett, Zach and I handed over checks totaling more than $2,300.00 to Captain Liam Flaherty and the members of Rescue 2.

Captain Flaherty and his crew were VERY appreciative. We talked about all of the donations that have been making their way to the fund and how much each dollar counts.  Not just each dollar into the fund … but every dollar out of your pocket. Captain Flaherty and the men of Rescue 2 understand how hard “times” are throughout the fire service and how difficult it is to give money away (donate) in these economic times. That’s what made these donations even more special … You most likely couldn’t afford it but you gave ANYWAY …That’s what BROTHERHOOD is all about.

I guess, in a way; we were able to show the men of Rescue 2 that the Brotherhood is alive and well… and not just in New York City. Knowing that a lot of you who donated were sacrificing something  to do so (big or small) was very humbling. Again I say THANK YOU !

Keep in mind that Brothers Weidmann and Gersbeck (and their families) are not “out of the woods” yet. Firefighter Gersbeck is now recovering at home while Weidmann faces many more surgeries and extensive rehab (he was burnt over 54% of his body).

If you missed the chance to DONATE, you can still do so by clicking HERE

Photo by Lt Rhett Fleitz (FireCritic.com)

We got to spend some time at Rescue 2. The house and men within it are nothing short of AMAZING.

They had just placed their brand new rig .. a 2011 Ferrara into service on Saturday .. Liam said they were batting 700 … it already smelt like fire. We got the grand tour.

We also got to meet someone very special in my mind …Brendan Ielpi.

I had the honor of meeting Brendan’s father, Lee; back during our October 2011 visit. Lee Ielpi is a co-founder of  the WTC Tribute Center  and Chief Billy Goldfeder had arranged for him to give us a personal tour. It was one of the most emotional events of my life! I will never forgot the time I spent with Lee, and what he shared with us that day.

I still cry thinking about thinking about that visit. He kept a hand on me the entire time  … a hand on my shoulder, clasping my hand into his or leading me by the arm and he was always looking me in the eyes.  I can’t explain how it felt. How it feels still today. Somehow, for whatever reason; we forged a bond that day and it’s one I will carry for the rest of my life.

Read the post and learn more about Lee Ielpi by clicking HERE   

Lee lost a son on September 11, 2011 at the World Trade centers. He and his other son Brendan went there that day to “do what they could”. They ended up looking  (digging) for a son and brother, Jonathan; who responded in on FDNY’s Squad 288. Three months to the date, they found him but I don’t think Lee has ever “really” left.

Jonathan’s gear is now on display at The Tribute Center. Lee shared his story with us that day standing near that tribute (the gear).  I can’t describe the COURAGE that must have taken. The HONOR, RESPECT and PRIDE.

Brendan was also on the job at the time of the attacks. He had traded some time and scheduled off to take a trip with some friends. After learning of the attacks, he picked up his father and responded into the City.

Now, just over 10 years later; Brendan is assigned to Rescue 2 and  was pulling a tour when we stopped to visit. I could see his father in him and, for me; it brought back so much emotion. I understand the “father / son firefighters” relationship as my dad is also retired from the job. I don’t know why but I also feel as if us sons share some kind “bond”. As children, we’ve lived the life of a firefighter’s son. As adults, we spend our time trying to meet and live up to the expectations of 2nd generation firefighters who came behind such great men. I know that Lee is proud of Brendan and it was an HONOR to meet him.

You can learn more about the Brendan, Lee and some of what they went through and felt in those days, weeks, months and years since the attacks in a new book by Dennis Smith titled  “A Decade of Hope: Stories of Grief and Endurance from 9/11 Families and Friends”   (Click the title for more info, exerts and purchasing) .

See more PHOTOS from our visit with FDNY’s Rescue 2 by clicking HERE

So, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up and would spend the rest of the evening in Hoboken, NJ.

I got pretty excited because Rhett and Zach decided we would eat at a topless restaurant.  This trip was becoming more epic by the minute … Rescue 2, a Mayday Fund donation and now eating at a topless joint??? We need to go to New Jersey more often!

Turns out I think they were just teasing me cause this joint was REAL fancy and I didn’t see any topless women. Then when they brought the food out, it was just little teeny tiny portions and we all had to share. They laughed and told be it was “TOPAS”  and not “topless” …LMAO. It was good food anyway.

And, turns out there was a firehouse right across the street.

These were some great men as well and we even got to meet their Battalion Chief.

He was there for a station / gear inspection but invited us in anyway. We had some great conversation and then I handed him one of our Brotherhood Chips.

Get you FireCritic / Ironfiremen.com Brotherhood Chip HERE 

We took the chance to show the members some of the MN8-FoxFire Product line. Like everyone else who sees it for the first time, they were overtaken with “Glow Fever”.

The Chief was so excited that he invited us back to headquarters the next morning to meet the Chief!

Visit the Hoboken, NJ website by clicking HERE 

The next morning, we stopped by a local bakery and bought some stale biscuits to take to the station … we try to never go into a firehouse empty handed. The members LOVED em! Rhatt and Zach called em bagels but they sure looked and felt like a stale biscuit or doughnut to me…LOL


Now, see part 2 by clicking HERE and the 3rd and final part by clicking HERE