Saturday, August 6, 2016

Last Call for Frederick Weller

Last Call for Frederick Weller




 For more than six decades, Frederick Weller belonged to the Plessis Volunteer Fire Department in northern New York State. He had joined in 1955, as soon as he and his young wife and their infant daughter had moved into the little house on County Route 3. Since the house was literally next to the fire station, he was invariably the first to respond when the siren went off.


He was the first once again on the evening of July 19, when the wail of the siren woke him from a catnap in his kitchen. At 85, Fred no longer had the strength and speed of a young man; it had been at least a dozen years since he could suit up to actively battle fires. But he could still pull on his boots, which were always waiting by the kitchen door; he could still reach the fire hall before anyone else; and he could still make sure the station bay doors were unlocked and the exits cleared so that as firefighters arrived, they could get the trucks and equipment moving without a moment's loss.


He didn't make it.


As he reached the steps leading from his porch down to the driveway, he momentarily blacked out — a new medicine had been giving him vertigo — and fell heavily, face first, onto the pavement. The damage was massive. Fred lapsed into a coma as an ambulance, operated by first responders he'd known and worked with for years, rushed him to a helicopter so he could be airlifted to the Syracuse Medical Center. But there was no hope of saving him. He never recovered consciousness and died the next day.


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