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Ridgefield Adopts Bergen County's First Pink Fire Engine

The fire engine on the right will soon be painted a shiny pink. Photo Credit: John LaFalce
John LaFalce, a Ridgefield volunteer firefighter and Pink Heals Bergen County president, with the organization's 2006 Ford patrol car. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine
Ridgefield Fire Department firefighters Danny and Joette Fugnitti pose on the engine that will soon be used to spread cancer awareness at their wedding. Photo Credit: Joette Fugnitti
Ridgefield Firefighters Joseph Fugnitti and his daughter Joette Fugnitti, left, with her now-husband Danny Fugnitti, center and his father and former chief, Victor Fugnitti. Photo Credit: Joette Fugnitti

RIDGEFIELD, N.J. — The same fire truck that responded to the Twin Towers on 9/11 became the first engine in Pink Heals of Bergen County's fleet at Tuesday evening's Ridgefield Mayor and Council meeting.

The borough donated the 1978 Salisbury Rescue Truck to Bergen County for fire training purposes in 2008, then bought it back for $1 this week.

Pink Heals is seeking body shops that will apply lettering and shiny pink paint to the engine, said Bergen County Pink Heals President John LaFalce, a borough volunteer firefighter.

The truck, which will be kept at LaFalce's Engine Co. 3, will serve as a "rolling memorial" at cancer awareness events in Bergen County, he said.

It will be named after former borough resident Thomas Lavelle, who died of cancer in 2013. His widow, Barbara Doidge Lavelle, has an 80-year family legacy with the department.

LaFalce spotted the engine among several others in a Hackensack parking lot awaiting auction this summer.

"Wait a minute," he thought. "If that truck is going out to auction, then we should try to get it for Pink Heals."

Ridgefield firefighters in 2011 became the first in Bergen County to adopt the "Cares Enough To Wear Pink" movement, which raises funds for residents battling cancer.

The department made history again in 2012 when it added a 2006 pink Ford to its fleet, making the Ridgefield Fire Department the first company in Pink Heals organization to own a vehicle.

Firefighter Danny Fugnitti, a 10-year department veteran — and Lavelle's nephew — said the 1978 Salisbury was the reason that his father, former Chief Victor Fugnitti, joined the department in 1979.

"He was driving down the street when he saw it sitting outside the firehouse," said Fugnitti, who had the engine at his prom and wedding. "That truck is the heart of the department."

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