Merrick Fire Department plants a ‘survivor tree’


The Merrick Fire Department remembered the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by planting a “survivor tree” — a Callery pear tree sapling on the lawn of Empire Hose Company #3 on Merrick Avenue. Residents were able to see the tree and learn about its history at the fire department’s Nov. 4 open house.

In the month following the attacks on the World Trade Center, rescue workers found a partially burned Callery pear tree at Ground Zero. Though its roots were snapped in places and it sustained heavy damage, the tree survived. It was nurtured and brought back to health by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, which replanted it at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in 2010. The memorial committee sends seeds from the original tree to communities around the world to plant as a symbol of resiliency.

“To have that tree here is a blessing,” said Eric Morales, 46, of Merrick, who joined the fire department after last year’s open house. “It was important for me that my children see their dad do his civic duty.”

While the training and certification process was overwhelming, Morales said, he takes pride in knowing that he can help his neighbors when they’re in need.

In addition to Morales, the department gained two more members at last year’s open house. This year, roughly a dozen attendees showed interest, according to Ron Luparello, an ex-chief of the department.

At the open house, attendees were able to see a variety of simulations, including process of rescuing someone from a car fire by dismantling the vehicle, and breaking into a locked house using a Halligan bar, which Luparello called “the master key to every house.” Every open house is important to Luparello, he said, as they provide volunteers an opportunity to show their family and the community what the department does.