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South Brunswick firetruck will now serve citizens in Bayamon City, Puerto Rico

1988 Spartan 3D already lettered for MERT and ready to provide emergency services by fellow firefighters in Bayamon City, Puerto Rico.

SOUTH BRUNSWICK – Members of Kingston Volunteer Fire Company (KVFC) and South Brunswick Fire District No. 3 held a ceremony at their firehouse to hand over the title for their 1988 Spartan 3D Engine to Chief Eulando Piñero of the Metro Emergency Response Team (MERT) of Bayamon City, Puerto Rico.

Following a blessing by Rev. Sharyl Dixon of the Kingston Presbyterian Church, KVFC Chief George Luck Jr. gave a brief history of the events that led to this moment, and Agostino Racanati presented to Piñero the truck, fully stocked with supplies and equipment donated by other local fire departments, and bearing its new identity, MERT, in gold lettering, around 5 p.m. on April 19.

It all began last year, when Piñero reached out for help in the wake of Hurricane Maria, according to information provided by Luck. Bayamon is Puerto Rico’s second-largest municipality and is part of the metropolitan area centered on San Juan. In a letter to the Bridgewater Board of Fire Commissioners District No. 4, he explained the plight of his volunteer fire department, which is the only volunteer fire department in Puerto Rico, and a registered 501(c)(3) organization, according to the statement.

The district that is their immediate response area of six towns is staffed by just one firefighter per shift, with one outdated fire truck in service. When New York City Fire Department’s Incident Management Teams were on the island to assist after Maria hit, they were shocked by the inadequacy of staffing and the condition of the equipment, according to the statement.

The plea for equipment and supplies quickly circulated among central New Jersey’s local fire departments, and the timing was right. KVFC had a new truck, and was about to retire the 1988 Spartan. The donated engine had been bought in July 2017 by South Brunswick Fire District No. 3 from South Brunswick Township Fire District No. 2, where it had ably served the Monmouth Junction Fire Department for 28 years, because a Kingston engine had motor problems, and was determined not cost effective to repair. The Spartan was placed in service to the community on Aug. 5, 2017, as Engine No. 3 (243). It served faithfully until a new engine could be ordered and built, according to the statement.

When the new 2019 K.M.E. engine was placed in active service at noon on March 30, the 1988 engine was retired from service – and needed a new home.

One of the MERT team members will fly to New Jersey to drive the Spartan to Florida, where it will be shipped to Puerto Rico, according to the statement.
In taking the title, Piñero expressed gratitude for the many firefighters who participated in this project, and for how much more his company will be able to do to help and protect the citizens of Bayamon.
In a tribute to all who made this donation possible, one of the key partners, Captain William Borke of the New Brunswick Fire Department, said of the brotherhood/sisterhood of firefighters, “It is so strong that it almost brings tears to my eyes.”
Police officer Fedor Salvador of the North Brunswick Police Department also spoke of the network that came together to provide equipment, supplies and support for their brothers in Puerto Rico, according to the statement.
 
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