For Immediate Release: August 16, 2006
Queens Firefighters Honored by the New York Mets for their Work During Recent Blackouts
Firefighters from Engine 312 in Queens were honored by the New York Mets organization for their efforts in assisting the residents of Queens during July's week long blackouts effecting parts of Astoria, Long Island City, Woodside and Sunnyside.
Prior to the Mets versus the San Diego Padres game, firefighters Steve Vano and Richard Ruebenacker from Engine 312 were invited to participate in an on-field ceremony where they accepted a check for $1,000 from Group Health Incorporated (GHI) on behalf of the Firefighter Thomas Elsasser Widows and Children's Fund, while the remaining members of their company looked on.
In addition, earlier in the day, firefighters Vano and Ruebenacker together with New York Mets second baseman Jose Valentin, and Mr. Met, the New York Mets team mascot, paid a visit to Jamaica Hospital, where they lifted the spirits of children and other patients.
The members of the Astoria-based fire company were at the epicenter of the blackout and accepted the honor on behalf of all the area firefighters and other first responders.
With local emergency call volumes soaring throughout the week, the members of this company were averaging 50-60 emergency calls every night, without the FDNY adding any resources for first week.
Due to the power outages, the emergency calls ranged from sick elderly residents needing medical attention, firefighters carrying frail residents to and from high floor apartments, to the typical fire and medical calls.
The members of Engine 312 also took the unusual step of opening up their firehouse as a sort-of community center, so that other city departments could house their emergency workers, while also making sure the firehouse could neighbors throughout Astoria by providing meals and beverages to local residents who had no ability to prepare meals.
Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association said, "The members of Engine 312 and all of our firefighters responded with the greatest of professionalism in meeting and responding to the needs of the estimated 100,000 residents without power. As call volumes soared New York City Firefighters were there when residents needed them most and amazingly did their job without Commissioner Scoppetta providing even a single extra fire company or any extra manpower during the first week of the blackout in Western Queens."
"While it is a disgrace the FDNY administration did not provide any extra resources for one week in this time of great need for the community, it is the dedication and hard work of our firefighters, once again, who got us through this. I commend GHI and the New York Mets for recognizing the firefighter's efforts."