After superstorm Sandy hit Long Island, local fire departments put out a call for help from firefighters around the state. Lt. Michael Chiapperini of West Webster answered.
Chiapperini, 43, was one of the firefighters shot and killed in Webster, Monroe County, by a heavily armed man who lay in wait for first responders after setting his own house on fire. But Chiapperini was remembered by local firefighters as someone who cared enough to travel to Long Island and work alongside Mastic Beach volunteers for about four days following the storm.
Mastic Beach Chief Robert Ubaldo said of the group that included Chiapperini: "They were a great bunch of guys, hard working. They could never do enough for us."
Chiapperini, his son, and a third firefighter from his department came down with one of their fire trucks to help in any way they could, including filling in on regular calls.
"They were handling wires down and other calls," Ubaldo said. "They were able to handle a car fire that we had . . . absolutely, highest quality."
Mastic Beach First Assistant Chief Carlo Grover worked the most with the upstate firefighters and said local volunteers were hard pressed with the volume of work after the storm and the added help, particularly with the added fire truck, was well received.
"Our guys were definitely stretched," Grover said. And the Webster firefighters "were all Class A firemen."
The first news of the shootings upstate hit hard, and it became harder still when Grover and others in Mastic Beach saw the published photographs and knew that one of the dead was someone that they had met and worked with. "For the short time that we knew them, they really stepped up and helped us out," Grover said. "It's sad. It's really tragic."
The Mastic Beach chiefs and other firefighters are making plans to attend the services upstate this weekend.