NYC will be aflame with fire-related events Saturday.
Active and retired servicemen and civilians will embark on a 14-mile “ruck” visiting 19 firehouses beginning at FDNY Engine 10, Ladder 10 to pay tribute to the city’s first responders.
The “Shepherd’s Men” team of 17 will be joined by members of the FDNY and civilians along the way in a journey filled with symbolism: The troupe sets off at 8:47 a.m. — a reference to the first dispatch of emergency personnel on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 — carrying 93 pounds of gear, or ruck, to honor hijacked Flight 93. The grueling journey will total 22 kilometers (13.7 miles), a reference to the 22 veterans of post-9/11 wars who commit suicide each day.
Ladder 10 Lt. Brian Collins, 59, will be marching with the Shepherd’s Men — sans the 93-pound pack — to help raise funds and awareness for the SHARE Military Initiative at Atlanta’s Shepherd Center. He got involved because the Center provides comprehensive rehab to veterans who have sustained brain injuries and combat-related stress disorders in post-9/11 wars, and there is a natural sense of understanding, camaraderie and mission shared by soldiers and others in uniformed public safety professions.
Collins’ own father was a Korean War veteran, and many of his colleagues are veterans or reservists. “We have a guy in our firehouse who is a nurse and being deployed next month,” he noted. Losing comrades in the midst of traumatic experiences, and suffering trauma oneself, makes one keenly appreciative of the work done to make service people whole again, said Collins.
“I’ve been to more than 30 funerals of guys who have died in the line of duty — and that’s not including” the funerals of firefighters who perished the in 9/11 attacks, Collins said.
While the FDNY is not an official sponsor of the ruck, “their mission is very important — very solid,” said FDNY spokesman Jim Long.
There is also an “Are You Brave Enough” 5K foot race with seven firefighting-themed obstacles that mimic the FDNY’s physical exam (window hurdles, climbing ladders, “dragging bodies,” and carrying hoses up stairs) and a free community festival at St. Mary’s Park, 450 St. Ann’s Ave. in the Bronx. While most participants pay $50 to join the adventure race, which begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, filers for the FDNY firefighter exam — given only once every few years — will receive a 50% discount. A discount of $10 can be obtained by registering online. More information about joining the department can be obtained at joinfdny.com. The event, intended to promote diversity in the majority male and white FDNY, is sponsored by United Women Firefighters (women number only 57 and make up less than half of one percent of the FDNY) and the Vulcan Society, which represents 700 black firefighters, or about 7% of the force. Registration for the current FDNY firefighter exam will be available on site.
The event, which is co-sponsored by Luna, will also feature free CPR cases, fire safety instruction, games for kids, mini workouts taught by a UWF trainer, giveaways and prizes.