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North Massapequa Fire Dept. gets help from friends after blaze

The North Massapequa Fire Department Headquarters on Thursday

The North Massapequa Fire Department Headquarters on Thursday after a Christmas morning blaze severely damaged the building and destroyed several vehicles.   Credit: Howard Schnapp

A fire engine and other equipment on loan to the North Massapequa Fire Department have served as unexpected holiday gifts after a Christmas morning blaze at the agency's headquarters destroyed several emergency vehicles.

Officials with the fire department Thursday described the support from agencies across Long Island and out of state as “overwhelming" after the Wednesday fire severely damaged the headquarters at 1000 North Broadway.

“All the chiefs from Nassau County and the chiefs from Suffolk County have [said] anything we need. If we need gear, if we need equipment, if we need trucks, they're all offering their assistance,” said Chief Joseph Pesale. “Going all the way upstate and even out of state, people are reaching out to us.”

Along with the equipment, Pesale's department has received messages of support in the thousands, including some from as far away as Florida, and the temporary use of a South Farmingdale Fire Department substation.

The fire, which was reported at 6:10 a.m. Wednesday, appeared to have started in the truck room, though the cause remains under investigation.

“It's hard to determine from the video, but it looks like something in one of the trucks let go and blew and caused the fire,” Pesale said. “It could’ve been a battery. … I really can't pinpoint which one it is. But something burst and blew on one of the trucks.”

Firefighters are still examining the extent of the damage, which included the loss of two engines and a ladder truck. An ambulance, which was severely damaged, will most likely need to be replaced, department officials said.

Since Wednesday morning, North Massapequa firefighters have used the department's second station on Hicksville Road, which has a fire engine, two medical vehicles, a heavy rescue truck and an ambulance. As of Thursday afternoon, Pesale said, firefighters had responded to two calls — an automatic alarm and a rescue call for an injured person.

“We're doing much better today. We're in much better shape,” Pesale said. “Every day, it's going to be progress.”

The department has gotten many “loaners,” he said, including an engine from the East Meadow Fire Department and an ambulance from a vehicle manufacturer. Pesale said offers of help have come in from fire departments across the Island.

First responders who watched their “second home” burn Christmas morning felt powerless as the heat and flames from the fire kept them from entering the headquarters to put it out, said Ralph Raymond, a North Massapequa Fire District commissioner.

“It’s almost like watching your home burn and not being able to do anything about it. You go through all your trainings to [fight] fires. But you can’t even get to your equipment,” Raymond said. “But the unity that showed afterwards … is indicative of the Christmas spirits.”

The fire department, said Raymond, a former chief, is stronger than ever.

“We will be able to not miss a beat and perform fire protection for the community,” Raymond said. “There’s nothing that’s going to bring us down.”

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