New York congressman visits Fort Drum firefighters
May 24, 2012
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Firefighters at Fort Drum's Garrett Loomis Fire Station dined with a special guest May 14, nearly one year since the facility opened.
Congressman Bill Owens from New York's 23rd District, toured the installation's state-of-the-art fire station and later joined the firefighters for an Italian feast.
"I think the service that's provided by the folks who work in the fire department and the police department, and the morale and welfare organizations all contribute to the operation of the base," Owens said. "(They) make the lives of the Soldiers and Families better and safer, and so, it's important that everybody understands that we recognize how important they are."
Owens added that he has had New York City firefighters in his family dating back to 1880.
"I'm always happy to visit the guys that do this kind of work," he explained. "I have a cousin who's a lieutenant in the (New York City) fire department."
During a visit to Owens' office in March, Fort Drum firefighters invited the congressman to have lunch at the station during his next visit.
"Congressman Owens is a big supporter of the fire services," said Lt. Dean Yauger, health and safety officer. "We knew he comes up here quite often, so we extended an invitation to come have lunch with some of the firefighters; he took us up on it."
One reason Owens was invited to visit and tour the station was because it was built as a direct result of his office's ability to acquire the funds to construct the facility, Yauger said. He noted the funding process began with Owens' predecessor, John McHugh, who now serves as secretary of the Army.
Yauger also said the visit was a good opportunity for Owens to see the new facility and equipment and meet the firefighters.
"The congressman has a direct impact on what goes on up here (at Fort Drum), not just because we're in his congressional district, but because … he sits on the Armed Services Committee," he said.
"This (building) is certainly an upgrade from our old 1940-era facility," Yauger added. "(Owens' visit was) a big morale boost."
The Garrett W. Loomis Fire Station, also known as Fire Station 2, was officially dedicated last July in honor of a fallen firefighter. Loomis, a Fort Drum firefighter and an assistant fire chief for Sackets Harbor Volunteer Fire Department, died in the line of duty while responding to a dairy farm fire.