By Michelle Miller
The Daily Star
---- — A local firefighter is putting his passion for demolition derbies toward a good cause — to raise sponsorship money to dedicate to other firefighters who lost their lives while on duty.
Kevin Rous, second assistant chief at the Edmeston Volunteer Fire Department, is in the process of getting a demolition derby car ready to smash at the Otsego County Fair this summer. He said the money raised will go to the families of the two firefighters shot in Webster, and to the family of an Oswego firefighter who lost his life after falling through a floor.
“Those of us who work in fire service are all part of a brotherhood, whether from Florida or no matter where we are from,” Rous said.
The West Burlington man said because the two incidents happened kind of close to home it really got him thinking about what he could do to help show appreciation for the men who lost their lives.
He said when firefighters volunteer their time to fight fires, or answer the call, there is always a risk that things can go wrong. That is what happened to those men, Rous added.
Four firefighters were shot in Webster, two of them killed while responding to a house fire the day before Christmas. Killed were Lt. Mike Chiapperini, 43, a volunteer firefighter and Webster Police Department’s public information officer, and firefighter Tomasz Kaczowka. The shooter was identified as William Spengler, 62, a convicted killer.
In January, Oswego’s Fire Captain Matter Porcari, 34, lost his life after entering a home to conduct suppression when the floor caved. Porcari went through the floor and into the basement of the home. He was extracted from the home and transported to Wilson Memorial Hospital in Johnson City where he was pronounced dead a short time later.
Rous said he plans to send letters to local fire departments to seek sponsorship money, but is open to any business or individual who would be interested.
“I have discussed this with a few other firefighters who think it is a good idea and who thought their departments would get on board, so I am starting there” he said.
This will not be Rous’ first time participating in a demolition derby — he said he has been doing it for quite a few years and has a couple more cars sitting on his lawn. He said he plans to register the sponsorship car in the 1 p.m. heat on Aug. 4. He also plans to have the car in the firemen’s parade during the first day of the fair, which will be held Tuesday, July 30, in Morris.
“Demo derbies draw big crowds so the car should get lots of attention,” Rous said. “I am excited for people to see it and hope people ask questions about it.”
Rous, who has been a firefighter in Edmeston for five or six years and in Missouri for a few years before that, said he has about 30 hours of labor into the car so far.
“It is a lot of work to get a car ready, but it is all worth it in the end,” he said.
For more information about sponsorship opportunities, call Rous at 267-7160.