North Jersey firefighters enthusiastically watch as their Ukrainian brothers brave rocket and sniper fire along with fire and smoke.
“What I see is no less wonderful, as they are working to remove victims with limited resources, regardless of the possibility of being killed in a Russian attack,” said Passaic Fire Chief Pat Trentocost.
With that in mind, it was easy to sell when this week Clifton Fire Chief Frank Prezioso turned to help to collect surplus fire equipment for Ukraine’s fire service. Trentocost saw photos of fire engines and vehicles buried in the rubble after the Russian attacks.
Prezioso said the idea came from a third-year firefighter from Clifton, Oleg Skachko, who emigrated from Ukraine when he was 14 years old.
Skachko’s first thought was to assemble personal protective equipment for Ukrainian firefighters, also known as equipment. He was contacted by friends from Ukraine who knew he was a firefighter, and their requests resonated first with him and then with his peers.
“It was so painful,” Skachko said.
Prior to moving to the United States in 2002, Skachko lived near the fire department, and when he moved here, he lived just down Patterson Street. He said he wanted to be a firefighter for as long as he can remember.
Now Clifton is taking the initiative to organize the collection of equipment and appeals to fire departments across the region. The goal is to get departments from all over New Jersey to provide equipment to help their brothers and sisters firefighters in Ukraine.
It is worrying that as the war continues and resources are destroyed, firefighters will be forced to work in street clothes.
“I’m sure none of them signed up for the extra risk, such as missiles firing right over their heads while they were trying to save and put out fires,” Trentacost said.
Pasayk found equipment for donations and found that neck collars, shields, bandages and other materials would soon be in high demand, the chief said.
While collecting gear is one step, delivering it to those in need is more difficult.
Heavy, bulky equipment needs to be packed in batches and shipped. It cannot be delivered directly to Ukraine because airports were one of Russia’s first targets, so it needs to be taken elsewhere and transported by land.
Asked whether it remained a priority when the Russians took control of the country, the answer was yes. Firefighters are crossing all political and national borders, fire officials said.
Matt Fagan is a local NorthJersey.com reporter. To get unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, subscribe or activate your digital account today.