Tired and exhausted, roommates Chris Campoli and Bruno Gervais finally made their way back to their place on the South Shore, Monday night, a little before 6 pm. It wasn't their standard off-day practice that put them out of commission for the rest of the day, it was something far more exciting.
After grabbing a bite to eat following practice, the two Islanders defensemen headed over to the East Meadow Fire Department Hook and Ladder Company 1 on East Meadow Avenue in anticipation of the upcoming Firefighters Appreciation Day, this Saturday at the Nassau Coliseum when the Islanders host the New Jersey Devils.
Campy and Bruno put their muscles to the test, participating in a number of drills and exercises at the Fire Station that only Long Island's Bravest experience day in and day out.
Many firefighters on Long Island are volunteers, which shocked Gervais, who didn't have any experience being in and around a fire station. That was not the case for Campoli, whose uncle and grandfather served time in their respective fire stations up in Canada. But Gervais quickly showed he could adapt to a new situation.
The defense pairing's first test was to dress as quickly as possible in full firefighter gear with the station's alarm sounding. It was a close competition as the two raced off to the fire truck, which was fully loaded to a fight a fire at a moment's notice.
"I think I found my Halloween costume," noted Gervais, running to catch the truck.
With lights flashing and sirens blaring, the fire truck pulled out of the station and made a quick U-Turn back into the station's parking lot, where Campoli and Gervais participated in the next drill.
The defensemen, along with a number of volunteer firemen, unloaded the hose from the truck as preparation for putting out a make-believe fire. Once unraveled, Campy and Bruno led the charge, dousing the backyard, with four men clinging to the hose to prevent it from spraying in every which way.
Loaded down in 30-plus pound fire suits, including the oxygen tanks, Campoli and Gervais thought they were done, but Chief John O'Brien offered them one more adventure – a ride on the 95-foot high engine ladder.
The two looked at each other and together motioned to send them up. After some instructions on how to raise the lift, Campoli and Gervais went up and away. High above the station and trees, the players could see the Coliseum a couple of miles away and the Long Island Sound, off in the distance.
"It was great being up there," said Campoli. "It wasn't scary at all, except for when Bruno was jerking the controls around. He almost threw me right off."
But the two ultimately made it down to ground level without any incident. Campoli and Gervais were rewarded for their efforts and given a grand tour of the lavish firefighter lounge, which was fully equipped with a ping pong table, pool table, bar, flat screen TV and, most importantly, comfortable couches.
"I've been an Islanders fan for over 30 years and a volunteer fireman since I've been 18-years old," said Chief O'Brien. "It's a big thrill to have Chris and Bruno here. A lot of us here are great Islanders fans. They are a fun pair of guys to see and meet, and when they went out there and started stretching the hose line off our truck, it was really something to see. They did an excellent job and blended right in with our members. They were a great pair of guys."
The roommates slumped down on the couches for the next 15 minutes, completely exhausted after an unusually long off-day.
"You definitely have a new-found appreciation for firefighters," said Campoli. "I always respected how much they did, risking their lives to save people, but to actually go through this, you see how hard it is to do everything, especially in the uniforms. It gets pretty hot in this stuff."
Campoli and Gervais are always seen signing autographs, but today, roles were flipped. After experiencing first-hand what these brave men do every day, it was the firemen who signed the specially designed nameplates for the two Islanders, who will never forget their experience at the East Meadow Fire Station.
"I live for these experiences," said Gervais. "I think I'm ready to go put out some fires."
Catch the East Meadow Fire Department at Fire Appreciation Day at the Nassau Coliseum, this Saturday when the Islanders take on the New Jersey Devils. FIREFIGHTERS APPRECIATION NIGHT – October 20 vs. New Jersey
- Collectible Firefighter-themed NYI hat, courtesy of Winthrop University Hospital, for first 10,000 fans
- Tix up to 40% off for Firefighters with tickets starting at just $16
Watch News 12's coverage of the event throughout their evening's newscasts.And check out Islanders TV for exclusive coverage from events such as these by clicking here. Once up, you'll see exclusive video from the 95-foot ladder truck that Bruno and Chris rode in.
- Fire trucks, equipment, exhibits from the East Meadow Fire Station and other Long Islanders Station