News release city spokesman Bill Kaempffer:
A 1982 Mack fire engine went on its final call for service in Bridgeport – to bring hope to an island nation 1,500 miles away. The decommissioned pumper left Bridgeport Friday for Massachusetts, where it will be loaded onto a military transport plane and begin its journey to Haiti.
“I’d like to thank the Bridgeport Fire Department, which for many, many years took tender loving care of this Mack fire engine. This has many years of life saving left in it,” said Mayor Bill Finch at the send-off ceremony. “The City of Bridgeport is so proud to be able to take its still serviceable fire apparatus and give it to countries that need the help, like Haiti.”
The truck is being driven to Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, Mass., where it will be loaded onto a military transport plane. It ultimately will arrive in Port-au-Prince and be driven to the city of Petion-Ville, a city of 280,000.
To make it happen, the city partnered with Haiti-works Inc., a local non-profit dedicated to relief efforts and rebuilding in Haiti after the 7.0 earthquake.
“Today is such a great day for all Haitians,” said Pierre d’Haiti from Haiti-works, Inc . “This is what it is all about. This is not just a red machine going to Haiti. It is hope that we are bringing to the island of Haiti.”
Councilwoman Michelle Lyons, who spent a decade doing missionary work in Haiti, was instrumental in making the donation a reality. She also worked with Congressman Jim Himes to bring a resolution to Congress urging municipalities around the country to donate decommissioned equipment to Haiti.
“This is an exciting moment,” she said at the send-off.
The engine had been used as a spare until last year, when it was taken out of service completely, according to Deputy Fire Chief Robert Petrucelli. Usually, the fire department goes through an auction process to dispose of unneeded equipment but City Council passed an ordinance allowing the department to donate equipment to countries in need.
The City has previously donated fire trucks to the Dominican Republic.