Highlighting the individuals in our community that help every day.
By Community Volunteer, Philip Santoli
I am often dragged to social functions in my wife’s professional arena. When conversational chit-chat turns to “and what do you do for a living?” my answer usually causes a neck-snap and eyes open wide like a kid on Christmas morning. I build fire trucks for a living.
What started as a month-long temporary helper position turned into a 40 year career of building, repairing, modifying, and customizing fire apparatus.
I have built over 30 monster brush trucks here on Long Island. To do that I start with a surplus military 6 x 6 truck, add water tank, pump piping, custom body, and pipes to push trees out of the way when entering the woods, and also protection for the firefighters attacking the fire from the rear body. Each truck is unique, according to the requirements of each fire company.
I have repaired crashed fire engines, forming metal to replace damaged sections; and welded aluminum steps that were damaged mostly from backing into things. We also fabricate custom mounting for tools and equipment on heavy rescues, pumpers, and ladder trucks. The industry buzzword is “rolling tool box”, prepared for anything… from electrical hot spots and sparks, to gas leaks, to auto accidents, building collapses, and, oh yes, fires.
Added to my list of credentials, I am one of only a handful of welders who are certified to work on ladder trucks which are inspected and tested annually for safety. I take pride in my profession because lives depend on the end result of my work.
With over 42 years as a volunteer, along with my father, my two uncles, my two brothers, my son-in-law and his father, my brother-in-law and his two sons, the fire service runs deep for me.
Hometown honors firefighters and EMTs every day by offering home and auto discounts for firefighters and their families.
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