During the holidays, Westporters responded generously to pleas to help Lyman, Ukraine.
In less than 3 weeks, residents contributed $252,000 to help the ravaged, war-torn town — our new sister city.
Now Westport’s Police and Fire Departments have added their resources.
On Friday Police Chief Foti Koskinas, Fire Chief Michael Kronick and their staffs packed dozens of boxes. They’re filled with crucial gear for their first responder counterparts in Lyman.
Among the items: gas masks, bulletproof vests and helmets, tourniquets, radios, electrical charging units, wool hats, gloves and baseball caps.
All are vital to helping Lyman’s police officers, firefighters and public safety personnel do their jobs. The Russians occupied the town for 5 months. When they left, they took or destroyed nearly every piece of emergency gear.
From left: Fire Chief Michael Kronick, Police Chief Foti Koskinas and 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, with bulletproof vests, helmets and other gear, ready for shipment to Lyman, Ukraine.
Koskinas and Kronick learned of the urgent need in Zoom calls with Lyman’s police chief. They were arranged by Westporter Brian Mayer, founder of Ukraine Aid International.
Stunned by the bleak situation, Koskinas, Kronick and their deputies scoured their inventory for items that might help. They found plenty of equipment that was not longer used, but still quite serviceable. There is no cost to Westport taxpayers.
Radios and other communications equipment, heading soon to Lyman. (Photos courtesy of Jennifer Petrosinelli, Westport Fire Department)
First Selectwoman Jen Tooker joined police and fire officials yesterday at the police garage, as they assembled the packages.
Delivery to Lyman will be facilitated Mayer and his brother Marshall, and Liz Olegov of Alex21, Ukraine Aid International’s on-the-ground partner.
Donations to Lyman are still welcome. Just click here for the credit card “Donate” button. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” You can also scroll down on that page for other donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo.) Or you can donate directly, via Stripe (click here).
The Westport Fire Department has donated used personal protective equipment — including coats, pants and boots — to Ukraine.
Fire marshal Nathaniel Gibbons organized the project. Yesterday he delivered the turnout gear, to be shipped to Ukrainian firefighters.
Gibbons says, “Firefighters support one another around the county and the world. The men and women of Ukraine fighting fire under war conditions reached out for our support- so we responded. We support them and their fight for freedom.”
Fire marshal Nathaniel Gibbons and Uliana Khovanets, liaison with Ukraine Post, with Westport Fire Department gear headed to Ukraine.
Fire Chief Michael Kronick adds, “Imagine trying to put out a fire without the proper equipment. There are raging fires in cities, forests and fields from the numerous bombing attacks, which firefighters work around the clock to put out. We know that our equipment will save lives, and help the firefighters.”
Gibbons thanks Westporter Mark Yurkiw. Fluent in Ukrainian, he expedited the communication and logistics necessary to get the gear directly to Ukraine Emergency Services.
The National Fire Protection Association specifies that structural turnout gear should be retired when the garment is beyond repair and no longer able to pass the NFPA test. Though the donated gear is past its technical expiration date for use in the US, it is clean, in serviceable condition, and ready to provide protection to Ukrainian firefighters.
An extensive search river and land search was conducted yesterday by the Westport Department and Fire Dive team, after a 22-year-old woman disappeared from a canoe near the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.
After 5 hours, the woman was seen on a surveillance tape at a local business. The search was suspended.
Early this morning she was located in Norwalk, and reunited with her family. Chief Foti Koskinas thanked all who aided in the search.
Based on Emily Dickinson’s poem of the same name — and spurred partly by the darkening political climate — the noted Westport artist asked 30 Westporters to participate.
Old and young; Black, white and Asian — all learned one word or phrase in American Sign Language. Through Miggs’ unique lenticular photography, each sign shows the beauty of that form of communication. It’s also a “visual chorus of our community, expressing the need for compassion in the world.”
Nearly 5 years later — thanks to the generosity of Westporter Melissa Ceriale — the 30 portraits have been permanently acquired by Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains. They were installed on Wednesday.
COVID has delayed a formal unveiling. But the hospital has a robust social media presence, and they’re showing off their new acquisition to the world.
As Miggs notes, his piece lives on, “in a place dedicated to compassion and healing.”
Miggs Burroughs’ “Signs of Compassion,” at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital. And yes, that’s me in the top row, 2nd from left.
Looking for some great reading this holiday weekend?
Click here for the “Westport Progress Report on Floodplain Management.”
As you probably know, the report is prepared annually to enable residents to receive a 10% reduction in flood insurance. That insurance is offered by FEMA, to communities participating in the Community Rating System.
Municipalities are ranked from 1 to 10. A ranking of 1 offers the highest reduction in flood insurance rates. Actions taken by the Planning & Zoning Commission over the years have brought Westport’s ranking from 10 to 8. More efforts are planned.
Insurance is important to homeowners in flood-prone areas like Compo Cove.
Nicholas Marsan has been promoted to deputy chief of the Westport Fire Department, while Theodore Crawford has risen to lieutenant. They — and new Fire Chief Michael Kronick — were sworn in yesterday at Town Hall.
The promotions fill vacancies created by the retirement of Chief Robert Yost on January 1.
Marsan became a Westport firefighter in 2007. He then served as fire inspector and lieutenant.
He is a veteran of the US Army and the CT Army National Guard. In 2010 he was deployed overseas. He received the Army Commendation Medal for Valor during operations in Afghanistan, and is a 2-time recipient of Westport Rotary Public Protection & Safety Awards, and 2 unit citations.
Marsan was also president of the Westport Uniformed Firefighters Association, Local 1081. He earned a master’s degree in history from Western Connecticut State University. He is now completing a master’s in public administration and emergency management at Sacred Heart University.
Crawford joined the department in 2011. He is an EMT, and president of the Westport Uniformed Firefighters Charitable Foundation.
He is also a rescue diver on the Westport Police/Fire dive team, and a hazardous materials technician on the Fairfield County Hazmat Team. He received a Westport Rotary Public Protection & Safety Award, the Firefighter Dominic Zeoli Award, and 2 Unit Citations.
Crawford is a graduate of Clarkson University, majoring in civil engineering.
From left: Theodore Crawford, Nicholas Marsan, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Fire Chief Michael Kronick.
Audiences across the country look forward to tonight’s “Stars on Stage From Westport Country Playhouse” (Friday, January 14, 9 p.m. Channel 13; check listings for other PBS stations).
Shoshana Bean is the star of this episode. It was taped in September, before 2 local audiences.
But that’s not the only Shoshana news this week. The “Wicked” and “Witness” actress has just been signed to the cast of the new musical comedy “Mr. Saturday Night,” with Billy Crystal. The shows opens at the Nederlander Theatre on April 27.
In the aftermath of 2 recent devastating blazes, Westport Fire Department Chief Michael Kronick says:
This past week, New York City and Philadelphia suffered deadly fires that claimed the lives of 31 people. Our hearts go out to the victims, and to our brothers and sisters at the FDNY and the Philadelphia Fire Department who struggled so valiantly to save them.
Whenever you hear a fire alarm sound, head to the nearest exit and leave the building. If you see fire or smell smoke, call 911 immediately. When you escape a fire, close the door behind you. Every closed door slows the spread of the smoke and fire. This buys you more time to escape and protects others as well.
A Philadelphia Fire Department official said that at least 4 smoke detectors in the rowhouse did not go off during the fire. If you have a smoke alarm with removable batteries, make sure you replace those batteries every 6 months. It’s best to do it when you change your clocks twice a year.
A FDNY Fire Marshal reported that the Bronx fire was likely caused by a space heater that had been running non-stop for several days. Space heaters are not intended to be a 24/7 heating source. They can overheat, overload electrical circuits, and ignite flammable material, like furniture cushions, if the heater is too close.
Whenever you use a portable heater, set it up a safe distance from anything that can burn, never use an extension cord, and check the heater to make sure it’s operating correctly.
Many of the victims died from smoke inhalation while trying to escape, in corridors and stairways. In a high-rise building, toxic smoke can move faster than you can. So, in a high-rise fire, never enter a space that is smokier than the one you’re in.
If the corridor is full of smoke, do not enter it. Stay where you are, close the door and seal it off with towels or blankets. If you’re heading down the stairs and conditions get worse, leave the stairs and shelter on another floor.
Most importantly, have an escape plan and practice that escape plan before you need it.
The fires are terrible tragedies, for the victims, their families, and the first responders. Our heartfelt sympathies to the families and friends of those who lost their lives or were injured. We are reminded of the devastating impact of fire and the need to do more to prevent them in the future.
As we mourn the loss of these lives today, we must use these tragedies to continue efforts to ensure the public and communities prioritize fire safety – in particular the use of smoke alarms, escape planning, and educating our most vulnerable.
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