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    Firefighters build ramp for retired colleague

    Sunday, December 23, 2012


    Firefighters build ramp for retired colleague




    By Thomas Caywood TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF



    WORCESTER — A pack of more than four-dozen city firefighters converged on a Burncoat Street home early this morning, but not to battle a blaze.

    The off-duty firefighters showed up with power saws, nail guns and a truckload of lumber to build an elaborate wheelchair ramp for a retired colleague, John Carey, 63, who recently lost a leg below the knee due to complications from cancer.

    His wife, Mary, is a petite woman who wouldn't have been able to help her tall, heavyset husband in and out of the house without the ramp.

    “Now, I'll be able to pull up to the front and wheel him in when he comes home,” Mrs. Carey said happily.

    Her son, Micheal Vayo, added, “This is the difference between him being homebound or going out and having breakfast with his friends.”

    Mr. Carey, who served 37 years in the Worcester Fire Department, most recently in the Fire Prevention section, is undergoing rehabilitation following his surgeries. He is expected to be able to come home in a few weeks, his wife said.

    The family might have found it difficult to find a carpenter and crew who could complete the project in time, and they certainly would have found it costly.

    But the group of Fire Department volunteers, who dub themselves the “Worcester Fire Ramp Gang,” are old hands at ramp building. They have constructed more than a hundred ramps over the years, mostly in Worcester County, and they never charge a penny. The men volunteer their time and pay for the materials with donations from local unions.

    “There was a need for a ramp, so we just come out and do it. It'll be done by the end of the day,” said Frank Raffa, former president of the firefighters union.

    Mr. Raffa, his sweatshirt coated in fresh saw dust, said the group figures it has built the equivalent of a mile of wheelchair ramps out of 2-by-6-inch planks.

    “That's a lot of board,” Mr. Raffa said.

    photo
    From left, Police Officer Mike Montiverdi, and Firefighters Bill Lynch and Tom Gingras build the wheelchair ramp today. (T&G Staff/RICK CINCLAIR)

    http://www.telegram.com/article/2012...KRJs0.facebook

    Comments.. this was one of four..

    MrsKDaley wrote:
    There were actually closer to 70 men, and at least one younger-lad-in-training who helped build the ramp at the Carey house. These men also helped with some maintenance on John Carey's childhood home to keep it safe and secure. It was a chilly day, but the smiles and laughter that were constantly going around kept everyone's hearts warm. I'd like to thank the anonymous people who showed up with coffee and treats, some saying that they and their families were helped with ramps years ago and wanted to do what they could at this time. Thank you , thank, you and a very Merry Christmas to you all. May the New Year renew our spirit and bring hope and an atmosphere of comraderie to us all.
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