At 12:54 on Saturday afternoon, an alarm sounded inside the Easton EMS building on Sport Hill Road and a group of firefighters seated around a table upstairs bolted to their feet and scooped up their equipment. Moments later, two fire engines and a tanker turned right onto Sport Hill with the sirens blaring.
The engines were from Monroe and Long Hill in Trumbull, the tanker from the Mill Plain company in Danbury. Long Hill Deputy Fire Chief Alex Rauso Jr. followed the trucks in a marked SUV.
The firefighters were working the Saturday shift for their brothers in Easton, as the small town spent the day mourning the loss of Lt. Russell Neary, who lost his life in the line of duty when a tree fell on him on Judd Road during Monday's hurricane.
The trucks sped back toward the scene of the fatal incident, while responding to an alarm on the long wooded road.
At the Judd Road address, Rauso spoke to a man who said his neighbors were out when the power came back, tripping their alarm. While Rauso jotted down the information, a Trumbull police cruiser pulled into the driveway.
The Monroe, Long Hill and Mill Plain fire companies worked a 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift and a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift so Easton's volunteers could have some time to cope with the loss of their fallen firefighter.
"We feel it's the least we could do," Rauso said of filling Easton's two shifts. "The fire service is such a brotherly thing. You're there for each other. Everybody here is doing it for the camaraderie and brotherhood of the firefighters in Easton."
Rauso said the sense of brotherhood is the same spirit felt among police, firefighters and ambulance personnel.
"It's a brotherhood in this business and everybody wants to help," he said. "They would stay for days. We have each others' back all the time."
Easton Fire Chief Jim Girardi attended the funeral Mass for Neary Saturday morning, which was attended by police officers and hundreds of firefighters and EMS volunteers from towns all over Connecticut. It was followed by a gathering inside the bays of the Easton Firehouse.
"The support that we've gotten from departments as far away as Canton and Burlington, New Britain and South Windsor ... the assistance and the outpouring of support they've given us is phenomenal — and I don't think we could have gotten through it all without it. All of the surrounding towns have been tremendous."
First Assistant Chief Steve Waugh alluded to the massive blackouts Hurricane Sandy caused throughout the region, when he said, "It speaks to the character of the individuals responsible, people who probably didn't have power themselves."