Shell Fire gets an assist - from NY firefighters

Nathan Oster

Readers of the Standard may recall the story of Vinny Alexio, the retired New York City firefighter who spent the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks hunting for deer in the Greybull area with his friend Travis Marshall.

Alexio ended up getting a deer and left town a happy man, but his story didn’t end at the airport terminal.  Not by a longshot.  He returned to the area in May, this time to hunt turkeys.  He and Marshall had gone to the home of Terry and Dineen Mueller, seeking permission to hunt their land.  Over snacks and drinks, they got to talking about firefighting and differences between their departments.

One big one, in particular: In New York City, firefighters hold fundraisers for company dances and parties. But in Shell, where the fire department receives no funding from any government sources, survival depends on it.

Alexio couldn’t believe it — and when he got back to New York City, neither could some friends in firefighting circles like David Sterne and Phil Carlucci of the Setauket Fire Department, Jim Yearsley of the East Farmingdale Fire Department and Steve Mockler of the Nassau County Fire Training Academy.

All it took to get them on board was “a couple of phone calls,” said Alexio, describing himself as simply a conduit.  Help, they did, donating all kinds of used (but still good) equipment from their all-volunteer firehouses.  Most of it has already been delivered to the Shell Fire Hall. The boxes contained lots of bunker gear – 10 pants, eight jackets — plus gloves, helmets, suspenders and nomex hoods.  The cherry on top is a brand new portable deck gun. Valued at between $15,000 and $20,000, it was still in transit as of Wednesday afternoon.

In total, the value of donated items was approximately $60,000.

Sam Miller, first lieutenant for Shell Fire, said the donated items, “along with what Lander recently provided us, will get most if not all of our firefighters in gear that is up to date,” further explaining that equipment must be rotated out every 10 years per NFPA standards.

“But the part I’m most excited about is the deck gun and nozzles,” he said. The department’s primary truck has a deck gun, but the one that is coming from New York “will have a lot better reach and be able to penetrate a lot deeper into a fully involved structure.”

He called the donation items a big upgrade for Shell Fire, which presently has 16 active members.  They’ve been busy of late, responding to several structure/grass fires within the past month.  “And the busy season for us is still ahead,” said Dineen.