Twenty members of the Berkeley Fire Department took to the streets Monday, rubber boots in hand, to ask citizens to contribute to the families of their fallen colleagues in New York City.
The “Fill the Boot” campaign is a project of the Berkeley Fire Fighters Association Local 1227.
“Collectively, we have lost possibly 400 firefighting brothers and sisters,” said Marc Mestrovich, BFFA Local 1227 secretary. “Even though the tragedy took place in New York, we feel it here.”
Mestrovich said that the donations collected will be sent back with a BFD delegation that will attend the funeral for their colleagues in New York.
Three firefighters from Station 2, 2029 Berkeley Way, stood outside the downtown Berkeley BART station Monday morning taking contributions.
One of the firefighters, Mike Posadas, described the strain that the tragedy has placed on Berkeley’s fire department. He described a shift meeting held on Sunday, during which the normally stolid firefighters struggled to keep their feelings in check.
“Some people were very emotional, others were keeping it inside,” he said. “Everyone’s dealing with it in a different way.”
Mestorvich said that the executive board of the union planned the campaign early last week, shortly after it learned of the fates of those firefighters first dispatched to the World Trade Center.
“We’re a helping group, and this is our way of helping New York through this,” he said. “If this happened in the city of Berkeley, the nation would do exactly the same for us.”
Firefighters will be collecting at various locations around the city today: at the Berkeley BART station, Fourth Street, Solano Avenue, Bancroft Avenue at the corners of College and Telegraph avenues and at the corner of College and Ashby avenues.
Donations can also be mailed to the California Fire Foundation, care of California Professional Firefighters, 1780 Creekside Oaks, Suite 200, Sacramento CA, 95833.
There will be a blood drive at Fire Station 2 on Sept. 28.