Fort Drum firefighters dedicate new station to one of their own
July 28, 2011
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Members of the Fort Drum community gathered this week to watch officials dedicate the post's new fire station to a young man who died in the line of duty last year.
Garrett William Loomis, 26, a Fort Drum firefighter as well as assistant fire chief with Sackets Harbor Volunteer Fire Department, was the first to respond the morning of April 11, 2010, to a burning silo on a dairy farm in Sackets Harbor, according to an official report released this year.
Once smoke was detected at the top, Loomis climbed the silo to close and secure all of the hatches. He was on his way back down when the structure exploded.
"He was a firefighter who gave the ultimate sacrifice and left our world too early," said Robert Kerr, retired Fort Drum fire chief and guest speaker during the Garrett W. Loomis Fire Station 2 dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony July 26.
"Firefighter Loomis left his mark … as one who was a hard worker, a friend, an athlete, a guy with a great smile and a personality that matched," Kerr said. "It is fitting that this new modern fire station (should) carry his name, as he truly represents what is new and forthcoming."
Loomis was a good-natured, hard worker by day and a treasured member of the North Country community he served by night, said friend and co-worker Jason Brunet, Fort Drum assistant fire chief and a Sackets Harbor volunteer firefighter.
"Garrett will always be remembered for his smile, fun-loving personality and his will to succeed," Brunet said. "Every day we walk into this new fire station, we will see the memorial and remember our brother, friend and colleague.
"This is a fitting dedication to a great firefighter," he said.
Loomis' brother, Bryan D. Loomis, currently a fire marshal at Mount Prospect (Ill.) Fire Department, said after the ceremony it was a great honor to have the new station dedicated to his brother.
"I think it's a great recognition not only for the Fort Drum Fire Department, but also for (our) family," he said.
The new centrally located facility replaces Fire Station 2 on Nash Boulevard, which was built during the 1940s. Fort Drum currently employs about 70 firefighters at three different locations. The two other stations are located on North Post and at the airfield.
Fort Drum Fire Chief Donald Striejewske said the station dedication was well-deserved.
"Having this station dedicated to firefighter Loomis is a special honor," Striejewske said. "He was the new breed of firefighter, and here we have a new station. It goes hand in hand."
Striejewske added that the amenities of the new building will improve the quality of life for his firefighters, who often spend long hours on duty.
Loomis graduated from Sackets Harbor Central School in 2001, where he was named Top Male Athlete for his talented play in basketball, soccer and baseball.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina in 2006, graduated the New York State Fire Academy in 2007 and worked for the Wilmington (N.C.) Fire Department for more than a year.
He returned to northern New York to become a Fort Drum firefighter in January 2009. He was promoted to assistant fire chief in Sackets Harbor less than two weeks before his death.
Demonstrating the impact of the tragedy on the local community, a Facebook page called “In Memory of Firefighter Garrett” gathered more than 2,000 members within 24 hours of Loomis' death.
“I know that I am safely speaking for the entire Fort Drum community of Soldiers, Families and civilians when I say that this is a tragedy that touches us all,” Col. Kenneth Riddle, then Fort Drum garrison commander, said at the time.
Loomis is survived by his parents, Gary and Amy Loomis of Sackets Harbor, and two brothers, Benjamin and Bryan.
"To the Loomis family," Kerr concluded, "thank you for sharing Garrett with us and our fire department family. I ask that you reflect back to the positive times … because it's the way he would have wanted it."