A gift for those who gave so much

Tennesseans donate rig to replace Harlem ladder company's 11-year- old truck

Associated Press
First published: Friday, March 22, 2002

NEW YORK -- They donated their tax refunds and Boy Scout dues. They held bake sales and sold T-shirts.

After six months of fund-raising, the residents of east Tennessee saw their hard work pay off Thursday as they officially presented a new $1 million ladder truck to New York City in memory of firefighters who died Sept. 11.

"This campaign really touched the hearts of east Tennesseans,'' said Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe at a ceremony at Ladder 14 in East Harlem, which received the rig. "The people feel very close to the people of New York, and they wanted to make a statement that the terrorist attacks will not stop America.''

The members of Ladder 14 accepted the truck on behalf of the 343 firefighters who died in the World Trade Center attacks, including their battalion chief, Fred Scheffold.

Ladder 14 did not lose its truck in the attacks. It received the new rig because its 11-year-old truck needed to be replaced. Government funds have already been earmarked to replace trucks destroyed at the Trade Center.

Communities across east Tennessee began raising the money just two days after the Sept. 11 attacks, which took the lives of nearly 3,000 people. Their intention was to buy a $400,000 engine truck for the New York Fire Department.

But they exceeded their goal and were able to purchase a ladder truck at a cost of just under $1 million.

Meanwhile, officials said Thursday that recovery workers retrieved the remains of as many as 10 firefighters, including one of the Fire Department's highest-ranking victims of the World Trade Center attack, officials said Thursday. Assistant Chief Donald Burns, 61, was among seven firefighters found late Wednesday or early Thursday, said Mike Prendergast, a department spokesman. The remains of what appeared to be another three firefighters were discovered Thursday evening, he said.

Two civilians also were found, Prendergast said.