Thanksgiving Came to Bimini Early Due to Neidert Brothers and Central Florida Fire Rescue Organizations
By Alan Zlotorzynski, Senior Editor // November 22, 2018
DONATED FIRE TRUCK IS LIFE SAVER FOR SMALL ISLAND COMMUNITY
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Highlights and pictures of the recent fire truck dedication ceremony in the island town of Bimini in the Bahamas. Brevard County Fire Rescue, along with many Central Florida Fire Rescue organizations, donated time, talent and treasure to ensure the small island town would have an apparatus to battle fires and respond to rescues.
Fire Truck Donated To Bahamian Island Town Through Brevard Firefighters Benevolent Association Saves Lives Just Three Days After Delivery
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Thanksgiving came early to Bimini in the Bahamas, thanks to a coalition of dedicated fire professionals and Central Florida fire rescue organizations.
The story of Bimini’s good fortune ironically began with the destruction by fire last June of the town’s mailboat MV Sherice, which brings crucial supplies from Nassau.
The vessel burned at the docks from a kitchen fire, and Joe DeAbi, an ex-firefighter and fire chief from New Jersey and Central Florida, was there to witness and chronicle on social media the heavy black smoke coming from the unfettered blaze.
DeAbi and his wife recently retired to the small island town in the westernmost district of the Bahamas located about 500 miles due south of Brevard County, and about 48 nautical miles due east of Miami.
DeAbi was informed that there was no equipment to fight the fire. In 2013 an arsonist torched the police garage that housed the town’s only pickup truck used to fight fires.
Then came Hurricane Irma in 2017. Irma spawned tornadoes that destroyed homes and caused a rash of fires.
Those two major incidents, as well as lesser mishaps such as accidents, house fires and water rescues where firefighting equipment is essential, has put public safety and lives in danger.
DeAbi also noted that the island has many fire exposures. There are seven marinas; a diesel-powered generator plant; a 350 room, five-story Hilton Hotel; as well as several other hotels, motels and restaurants that use propane and high heat fryers.
When you factor in 320 condos, 80 single family homes, manufactured and mobile home communities and low-income homes in various states of disrepair, it’s just hard to imagine that if a fire broke out, there isn’t a piece of firefighting equipment on the island capable of extinguishing the blaze.
During the burning of the MV Sherice, DeAbi took pictures and posted them to his Facebook page and that started the conversation.
Enter Tim Neidert, a retired Lieutenant from Osceola County Fire Rescue and his twin brother, Brevard County Fire Rescue District Chief Tom Neidert.
“While I was scrolling through Facebook that day and saw the video, I commented to Joe why isn’t the fire out and where’s the fire engine?” said Tim Neidert.
DeAbi replied, “What fire engine? They haven’t had one for more than five years – the last fire truck they had was torched back in 2013 from an arson fire.”
So as dedicated fireman do, not sitting idle, Tim Neidert went ahead and created a Facebook page and a GoFundMe account named “Bimini needs Fire Equipment.”
Tim Neidert went on to say:
Within a couple of days the response was overwhelming, and on July 7, I got an offer from John Rourke that he would possibly be willing to donate a fire engine.
I personally didn’t know John Rourke but I did know a friend of his who had seen my social media message – and then it took off. Coincidentally, I had just retired from Osceola County Fire Rescue in July after serving 30 years, so I guess this became my retirement project.
After receiving the fire engine from Rourke through the Brevard Firefighters Benevolent Association the next project was to see what was needed, and who to get it from.
So, my brother Tom and I took a ferry ride to Bimini in the Bahamas to look at logistics and mapping of the island with Joe (DeAbi). After getting all the intel we needed, it was time to do the legwork.
We then contacted all the surrounding fire rescue departments and got replies back from Osceola County Fire Rescue, Brevard County Fire Rescue, Kissimmee Fire Department, St. Cloud Fire Department, Palm Bay Fire Department, Marion County Fire Rescue, Cocoa Beach Fire Department and Kennedy Space Center Fire Rescue.
All of these organizations provided much-needed supplies and equipment needed to outfit the donated fire engine to be service ready.
While I was working stateside to acquire the equipment for the Engine, Joe started working on getting donations from homeowners in Bimini. As of today, we’ve raised $17,805 – all of which goes directly towards the project.
From October 1 to October 31, the team got the engine ready to be shipped to Bimini. Then on November 1, the engine was sent to Secor, which is a shipping company that donated the shipping for free to Bimini.
On November 14, the team arrived in Bimini to get the engine ready for the Passover Ceremony on November 16. The ceremony included a “Junkanoo,” which is a Bahamian parade which took the fire engine throughout the whole island of Bimini to show it off to the community.
At the end of the parade, the ceremony started with many Bahamian officials, as well as the public, along with our team. It was a humbling experience for all of us to see what we can provide to people in their time of need.
Just three days later, on November 19 at around 8 p.m., Bimini Bahamas received a call for a structure fire with a mother and child in harm’s way and the newly received fire engine was put to work immediately.
Volunteer fire crews pulled hose lines to extinguish the fire and saved a mother and child that was in the burning building.
Part two of our project is to provide free CPR training islandwide and basic fire training for volunteers on November 30 through December 8 at the Hilton Resort World in Bimini.
Fifteen instructors from all over Central Florida have donated their time to be a part of this project as well as First Response medical group who are providing CPR for the Islanders.
Everything was accomplished through teamwork and the following crew members made this life-saving project happen:
• Retired Fire Chief from Kissimmee Heights Fire Rescue and his wife – Joe and Chris DeAbi
• Retired Osceola County Fire Rescue Lieutenant Tim Neidert and his Roslan
• Brevard County Fire Rescue District Chief Tom Neidert and Sara Mazzaoti
• Retired Lt. Mike Sinopoli from The Villages
• Mark Kadlecek, Michael Fletcher, Thomas Fletcher, Zach Maddox and Josh Dancsak
“I just can’t begin to tell you how fulfilling and satisfying of a feeling it is to know that something you helped accomplish saved the lives of people,” said Tom Neidert.
“We also want to mention that we are few dollars short of our goal on GoFundMe to get all the trainers to the island so please feel free to donate on a Facebook page Bimini’s Fire Equipment or Bimini Fire Rescue and the GoFundMe page.
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