By Stephanie Slepian Staten Island Advance
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — It’s what Keith Roma would have done — respond to Hurricane Sandy the same way he responded to the World Trade Center. So with that symmetry in mind, the nonprofit New York Fire Patrol donated 900 smoke detectors to the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation to distribute to Staten Islanders impacted by the storm.
“When the hurricane hit, I knew there was a want for anything and everything,” said Arnold Roma, who established the nonprofit in the name of Keith, his 27-year-old son who was the only fire patrolman killed on September 11.
“So as people are rebuilding or relocating, this was a way to avoid another catastrophe in their lives.”
A number of kits were also donated to Catholic Charities.
They were purchased with a portion of a $125,000 fire prevention grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The New York Fire Patrol, a unit older than the FDNY, began in 1803 and worked primarily to salvage property from fire and water damage. Funded by city insurance companies, its members worked side-by-side with firefighters at emergency scenes and used the same equipment, including rigs, tanks and gear.
The unit was disbanded five years after September 11, another blow to Roma and his wife, Rosemary. In 2010, they resurrected it as a nonprofit, running solely on grants and donations, both public and private.
Legislation to return the patrol to its former self passed the state Senate in 2011. It would have allowed a new patrol to operate within fire lines across the state, but the bill never made it to the Assembly floor for a vote.
There may be another shot: Roma expects a bill to be re-introduced this year that would revive the patrol strictly as a Staten Island unit.
“It’s all done in his memory,” Roma said of his son.
To learn more about the Fire Patrol, visit http://newyorkfirepatrol.com.