North Haven Fire Commissioner Peter Criscuolo proved that grassroots fundraising can be quite effective.
On Thursday, July 11, at a North Haven Board of Selectmen’s meeting, Criscuolo showed the selectmen and those in attendance a check written out for $12,500 from North Haven’s Town Fair Tire to help support the local fire department.
And this was only a drop in the bucket.
All told, Criscuolo’s fundraising push brought in more than $100,000 for the fire department.
“I went out and called a few of my friends. They donated the money,” Criscuolo said. “They gave it to me because I represent a wonderful place to live. They believe in the town they’re giving the money to.”
Town Fair Tire was one of many businesses in North Haven that donated. Others included National Lumber, Edible Arrangments, F & F Mechanical and C. Cowles and Co.
First selectman Michael Freda thanked Criscuolo for the fundraising he did, saying that “I haven’t seen” this type of fundraising during his time in office.
The money raised by Criscuolo went towards new helmets and ballistic vests for the fire department. Money for the ballistic vests was rejected by the Board of Finance in the 2019-2020 budget.
“Those vests being purchased, the taxpayers don’t have to pay for,” Freda said.
Criscuolo talked about how important the new ballistic gear was, citing the rise in shootings across the country and the explosion of a North Haven barn last year that left nine regional SWAT team members injured. He also said that out of 100 fire departments in the state looking for this kind of gear, only about nine have procured it.
“If our firefighters don’t have the best of equipment, how can they be safe enough to help you?,” Criscuolo stated.
Criscuolo told the Board of Selectmen that he plans to begin fundraising for a new LUCAS compression machine. The machine creates steady chest compressions to help stabilize those experiencing issues with blood circulation or those in need of CPR.
“Forty years ago I would’ve never thought it was a necessity,” said Criscuolo, quoting Ron Kanterman, another Connecticut fire chief. “Now, it is a necessity.”