MINNEAPOLIS - Dozens of Minneapolis firefighters went above and beyond the call of duty on Wednesday. They spent their off-duty hours helping city homeowners clean up from last week's storms.
Firefighters local 82 organized the one-day series of random acts of kindness, in which 25-30 volunteers roamed the city in 6-7 crews, adding machines and muscle to the tree removal efforts. Local 82 President Mark Lakosky told KARE 11 News that at one home they helped, at no charge, the commercial estimate to clean up had been $5,000.
The union concentrated on homes occupied by residents who were either elderly or with some disability. In the case of Dawn Yeager, her family had been searching in vain for a chainsaw. A giant branch from a neighbor's willow tree had broken a window and filled the yard.
"I own my own chainsaw," said Captain Gabe Fetzek, 32, of Engine 17. "We were just off duty and the union did a pretty good job of organizing the different crews to go and work. I am not sure how they figured out and what priority people needed help, but I was assigned to that address (Yeagers) and I did not know who it was at all. I just went and checked to see that it was something I was able to do."
"We had gone out for a short while to run an errand," said Dawn Yeager, "probably three hours, and we came back and found our note."
Fetzek had left a hand-written explanation on a piece of cardboard explaining who he was and that his union was helping local homeowners. Yeager was thrilled.
"We were just so blown away and surprised at the generosity and that kindness that they showed to come over and do this on their spare time," said Yeager.
Fetzek was equally enthusiastic about the experience. "You know, if you have never volunteered before, volunteering is just an awesome, just feel good about yourself when it is done."
Liam Yeager, 5, was too young to appreciate the firefighter's good work. He was too busy playing next to the pile of debris, neatly placed there by Fetzek. Liam was playing with his toy firetrucks.
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