West Tisbury firefighters get big boost from donors

The West Tisbury Fire Department recently received a six figure donation from two seasonal couples. —courtesy West Tisbury Fire Department

Two local couples have given $100,000 to help the West Tisbury Fire Department. Aileen Kennedy Roberts and Brian Roberts gave $50,000 and Dirk Ziff and Natasha Bacigalupo gave $50,000 to ensure firefighters had an extra set of turnout gear, according to West Tisbury Fire Chief Manuel Estrella III. The extra sets of turnout gear will help the department meet OSHA standards and will be used by firefighters in the event their original sets have been contaminated from firefighting. 

West Tisbury Fire Lt. Brynn Schaffner said smoke from fires is laden with carcinogens that must be cleansed from firefighting gear before it can be used again. The extra set means West Tisbury firefighters do not have to use contaminated gear when responding to emergencies that happen after a fire they’ve responded to. Chief Estrella said he was extremely thankful for the donations.

Schaffner said a set of turnout gear amounts to $3,558: $1,100 per pair of pants, $1,550 per jacket, $470 per boot set, $331 per helmet, $67 per glove set, and $40 for a hood. The department is getting 17 sets at a minimum. Lockers to stow the gear will also be purchased with the donation. The department has also received a $2,500 reimbursement for brushfire gear from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Estrella said. Essentially turnout gear for wildland fires, the fire department bought six coats, six pants sets, five helmets, and 12 flashlights, according to Schaffner. The department also received more than $5,000 from the state for an extractor, a type of washing machine designed to wash contaminants off turnout gear. 

At a teleconference meeting Wednesday afternoon, West Tisbury selectmen voted unanimously to accept the $100,000 donation from the two couples. 

Town administrator Jennifer Rand described the donation to the board as “fantastic news.”

The board also voted to send a thank you letter. 

“They didn’t have to do it, but they did,” Estrella said of the donor couples.