PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — The Petersburg Fire Department has been well known for its recent financial troubles. Today, members of the community were able to give back to the men and women who sacrifice their lives for them.
8News reporter Tracey Smith was there when the owner of The Halligan Bar and Grill, along with Michael Brigati, the author of The Fire Thieves, donated $1,000 that they raised from food and book sales to the Petersburg Professional Firefighters Association at a ceremony Sunday.
8News spoke with Daniel Macaluso with the PPFA who expressed his gratitude.
“These jurisdictions, these lines, they have no real boundaries when it comes to the generosity of people,” Macaluso said. “They see people in need and our firefighters in need thirty miles away and they step up and are willing to help.”
Shawn Gregory, owner of Halligan Bar and Gill, served over 20 years as a firefighter in Henrico County and tries to give back to first responders whenever he can.
“What we wanted to try and do was bring the community and the fire service community together so everyone benefits,” Gregory said. “If you’re a firefighter, you’re a firefighter regardless of jurisdiction. And if you’re a firefighter in need, we’re going to try and help out.”
Gregory partnered with retired fire captain Michael Brigati, the author of ‘Fire Thieves’ to organize the event.
“We are happy to help in any way we can,” Brigati said. “The fraternity of the fire service is very close.”
Brigati’s book is dedicated to his late son, who died before he had the chance to serve as a firefighter. Since then, he’s donated profits of his books to charities, with Petersburg’s story most recently grabbing his attention.
“It’s very distressing to read or see where firefighter who are tasked with helping everybody having difficulty,” Brigati added.
The funds don’t go to the city or the department, but go to the local union that supports Petersburg Firefighters to help with daily needs.
“We live in the fire station for 24 hours at a time, we eat there, we sleep there, we spend one-third of our lives there between the three shifts,” Macaluso said. “This ensures that we have the basic suppplies, the basic necessities that we need.”
Gregory added, “the important thing to take away from this is that the men and women that are riding on those firetrucks they are not the cause of this they are the victims of this and the citizens that pay taxes in those counties and rely on those services are the ultimate victims.”
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