Humboldt fundraiser proves hugely successful

Community turned out massively to hear one of the heroes of 9/11

On Feb. 18, an unusual and highly successful fundraiser was held in Humboldt to help the Humboldt Volunteer Fire Department generate the financial resources it needed to pay for a major equipment enhancement.

What made the event especially noteworthy was the featured speaker –Richard Picciotto. This former Fire Department of New York chief served for three decades in the FDNY. He was one of the heroic firefighters who responded so courageously to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Picciotto was on the 35th floor of the North Tower when the South Tower collapsed. He was between the sixth and seventh floors helping supervise the evacuation the North Tower when that structure also collapsed. Picciotto was initially trapped but despite significant injuries survived the ordeal. He subsequently wrote a best-selling book about what took place on that terrible day titled “Last Man Down.”

Brian Gargano, a former Humboldt firefighter, played a major role in recruiting Picciotto to keynote the Humboldt fundraiser. The community response was superb. Tickets were sold and corporate sponsors obtained. More than 1,200 people crowded the gymnasium at Humboldt High School to hear Picciotto’s recounting of his experiences on 9/11.

According to Jim Gronbach, chief of the Humboldt Volunteer Fire Department, in excess of $26,000 was raised. He said these funds will cover a substantial portion of the cost of a much-needed $33,000 air compressor and a new cascade system for air tanks. Acquiring state-of-the-art equipment is expensive. Broad public support is needed in all communities to make certain that firefighters have what they need to handle dangerous work effectively and safely.

The Messenger congratulates Fire Department and community leaders in Humboldt for orchestrating such a successful money-raising undertaking. The huge public response demonstrates that support for the Fire Department is strong in Humboldt. It also reminds us that virtually all Americans who were alive on Sept. 11, 2001, have powerful memories of that tragic day. That so many Humboldt County residents came together on a Sunday afternoon to learn more about what took place on 9/11 shows the power that day retains to stir passions and mobilize a patriotic response.