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Rockaway fire squad gets 'gift' of engine

Sleepy Hollow firefighters north of the city shipped a retired engine filled with supplies to Queens this weekend to help the Broad Channel volunteer department recover after superstorm Sandy wiped out infrastructure and crucial emergency-response equipment on the Rockaway peninsula.

"For us, it's a godsend, we really need it," said Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department Chief Dan McIntyre. "We lost our truck totally."

The 1991 E-One fire truck, which was used by Sleepy Hollow's department for 20 years, was sold to Broad Channel's volunteer department for $1 to replace an engine that burned from an electrical shortage caused by sweeping surges.

"We replaced the truck a couple of weeks ago just before the storm," Sleepy Hollow fire Capt. Christopher Scelza said. "We heard about what happened down there and we just thought it was the right thing to do."

The department is in the Westchester County community formerly called North Tarrytown. Village trustees there voted last week to approve the sale. Sleepy Hollow's fire department originally had put the old truck up for sale for $25,000.

"It's seen a lot of its own action, but other than some scratches here and there and a torn-up front seat, there's really nothing wrong with it," Scelza said. "It has about another five to seven years before it should be completely out of service."

According to Scelza, his company replaces its engines about every 20 years and had just purchased a new 2012 Pierce engine that cost $618,000.

The used engine, stocked with water, sleeping bags, clothes, winter coats, canned food, cleaning supplies, feminine products, diapers and boots -- items Sleepy Hollow residents collected to be donated to residents in the Rockaways -- made its way to Queens about 10 a.m. Saturday.

McIntyre, whose department runs solely on donations, said it could have taken more than a year to get the cash needed to purchase a new engine.

"All of our fundraising is done locally and the whole area is decimated," McIntyre said. "It's a financial burden on everyone that's involved. They all lost their own possessions so they won't be ready to dig in their pockets anytime soon to donate."

McIntyre said that once his community is up on his feet, he'd like to return the favor of helping out others.

"All of our brothers and sisters all came together and they really stepped up and helped," he said. "This is what it's all about."

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