Jordan Eberle, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy and Anders Lee found themselves wearing different uniforms on Wednesday afternoon. A little bigger, a lot heavier and instead of a stick in their hands, they were holding a firehose.
The four Islanders got a hands-on tour of the Westbury Fire Department on Wednesday, riding along in the trucks with the volunteer firefighters, spraying the water cannon, prying open the jaws of life and going through training exercises.
"We just wanted to come experience it," Boychuk said. "It's different from what we do and these guys are putting their lives out there and just to see what they do on a daily basis is important and cool to see."
Eberle fully suited up, putting standard fireman gear to do their training exercises. Fully decked out with a helmet, jacket, air tank, respirator and axe, Eberle went into a simulated smoke room, getting a face full of blinding smoke and a further appreciation of what these heroes go through every day.
"You gain a perspective and a lot of respect for them," Eberle said. "You think about it if you were in the real situation and these guys are pretty brave and have a lot of respect for what they do."
Eberle said he could also sense how much teamwork and camaraderie exists in a firehouse, which he said was similiar to that of a close-knit hockey lockerroom.
Westbury FD First Assistant Chief Kenneth Gass said it was a big thrill for his firehouse, which has been operating since 1897, to have the Islanders drop by.
"I'm a religious Islanders fan, to be able to have these guys come see us at our firehouse means the world to us," Gass said. "To interact one on one is something that can't be replicated."
Gass put them to the test with the firehose and the jaws of life, but said the Islanders were quick learners.
"I was impressed, I see a couple potential firefighters as retirement careers," he said. "We took them up in the tower ladder to see what heights are about, zero-visibility smoke, operating a hose, it looked like they had a little fun and maybe learned something too."