Updated: 10-14-2004 05:45:51 PM

"Rescue Me" Donates Money, Walk-On Role To Rebuild Texas Fire Station


HEATHER CASPI
Firehouse.Com News

Apostle Pictures and the TV series "Rescue Me" have donated $5,000 to Pedernales Emergency Services in Texas to help rebuild their fire station, the department announced Thursday.

What's more - the $5,000 isn't the end of it.

The show originally donated the department a "Rescue Me" walk-on role to auction off on eBay. When the auction closed Wednesday at noon, the department was in for a surprise, said spokeswoman Mary Christopher.

As they gathered around the computer to watch the last 20 minutes of the online auction, it started to rise. There were about seven bidders, including three very competitive ones, Christopher said. The price got up to $2,225 and then suddenly shot to $5,000. The eBay nickname of the buyer was "Apostlepix."

Sure enough, they discovered, show producers had bought the part, which they donated back to the department so they can auction it again.

"We were just thrilled," Christopher said.

The department caught the notice of "Rescue Me" star Denis Leary and other producers through one of their own firefighters, Romy Stevenson, who has worked as a production assistant on movie sets in the Austin area, Christopher said. Stevenson contacted Apostle Productions, which led to the idea for the walk-on role auction.

Whoever gets the part will be responsible for travel and lodging in New York, when the filming is scheduled, Christopher said, but will then get to spend a day on the set meeting the stars and filming their part. There is no guarantee that the role will make it through the final edit of the episode, but the production staff promised to make every effort, she said.

"The goal is that whoever gets it has a great time," she said.

Pedernales Emergency Services is a combination department with nine full time firefighters and several volunteers, located northwest of Austin, Texas in Travis County. Christopher said they cover 55 square miles in a rural and suburban community in the hill country of Texas and along the shoreline of Lake Travis.

Their problem is their aging fire station, she said. Originally built in 1973, the structure is cracking under the weight of modern fire apparatus and can no longer accommodate the firefighters and equipment. "Every time we back in it's a major event," she said. One room is used for training, the day room, triple-decker bunk beds, and the computer.

The department's goal is to raise $400,000 to build a modern and full-sized station. They originally estimated that it might take two years to raise the money through community and corporate support, but now hope it might happen even sooner thanks to the publicity from "Rescue Me."

As the firefighters gathered at the station Wednesday to watch the auction close, nervously clicking the refresh button over and over to see the latest results, a local television station was there to film the event and featured them on the evening news.

Christopher said they are grateful for the support and coverage. People often take the fire department for granted, she said, but, "This brings it to people's attention that we have a need," she said.

"We were just really amazed at their generosity," Christopher said of Apostle Pictures and "Rescue Me."

"What it said to us is they're really aware of what it takes to run a fire department and provide quality service to a community. It makes us feel very supported."

The walk-on role will be back on eBay within the next few days, Christopher said. Visitors can find the listing through a link on the Pedernales Emergency Services web site. "Rescue Me" airs on the cable FX Network.

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