Matt Boney said a fire chief had grabbed him on Tuesday night as they prepared to pull the body of their fallen comrade, Jared Lloyd, from the rubble of an assisted living center in Rockland County, N.Y., where Mr. Lloyd had died trying to rescue residents from a fire hours earlier.
The chief, he said, told him that one of Mr. Lloyd’s two sons, Logan, was turning 6 on Wednesday — in just a few hours — and had asked his mother if a fire truck could come to his house for his birthday.
“And that’s how this all started,” said the chief, Ken Conjura of the Spring Valley Fire Department, who is Logan’s stepfather.
Mr. Boney, a firefighter in Rockland County, started making calls at around noon on Wednesday but didn’t expect what happened next. Before long, he said, calls started pouring in from firefighters, police officers and contractors throughout the region.
Mr. Boney said he had soon realized that he was going to need a bigger staging area for the vehicles, and he directed everyone to meet in a giant parking lot outside a Pfizer office in Pearl River, N.Y.
More than 200 vehicles — fire trucks, police cars, ambulances, dump trucks and tow trucks — streamed into the lot and lined up in more than a dozen orderly rows.
“We knew it was going to be big, but we didn’t know it was going to be that big,” Mr. Boney said. “We were all in awe, like: ‘Oh my God. This is really happening.’”
The procession, reported by Lohud.com, had been organized as Rockland County firefighters were still grieving the loss of Mr. Lloyd, 35, an avid golfer, president of the firefighters’ softball league, a die-hard Mets fan and father to two boys, Logan and Darius, 4, his colleagues said.
Mr. Lloyd, who had been a Rockland County firefighter for more than 15 years, radioed a call for help from inside the Evergreen Court Home for Adults in Spring Valley, N.Y., before the building collapsed on Tuesday, the authorities said.
“He was that guy that you could call and he would be here in a minute,” Chief Conjura said. “He was that guy that couldn’t leave because he was afraid to miss something. He was that guy you want to have on your team. He’s going to be a big, big, tremendous loss to this department.”
Logan, who was still absorbing his father’s death, didn’t know if any fire truck was coming for his birthday, Chief Conjura said. But as the huge procession of vehicles left the lot and headed to the boy’s street, Chief Conjura told Logan to come outside.
It was gray and rainy, and the sound of the sirens came first.
Then the vehicles arrived, a long, snaking river of flashing red, white and blue lights through the streets of Nanuet.
The vehicles seemed to stretch for miles — fire engines from Monsey, police cars from Orangetown, ambulances from Stony Point, dump trucks from MCM Paving & Excavation from West Haverstraw — and so many more from so many places.
Logan watched as the vehicles rolled by his house for more than 40 minutes, stopping occasionally so firefighters could hand him presents.
“It was unbelievable,” Chief Conjura said. “He was super excited. He was very happy.”
On a day of mourning and loss, the procession, Chief Conjura said, was about answering a call to service.
“It just speaks about firefighters — even in their darkest moments, they shine,” he said. “They get together and make things happen. That’s what the volunteer fire service is all about: picking each other up.”
Source: Read Full Article