Money for something • Brooklyn Paper

Money for something

Firefighters at Engine 284 and Ladder 149 in Dyker Heights are raising money for veteran smoke-eater Bobby Ford (below), who was recently diagnosed with cancer. Here, several of Ford's colleagues gather around a photo of their stricken pal (from left to right: Steve Gambino, Reno Genovese, John Marchetta and Paul Vasquenz).
The Brooklyn Paper / Gregory P. Mango

Firefighters at Engine 284 and Ladder 149 in Dyker Heights are holding a fundraiser for one of their own, supporting a 17-year vet who came down with cancer after volunteering at Ground Zero.

The money will be raised for Bobby Ford and his family at the Dec. 1 fundraiser at St. Patrick’s Church.

Ford developed pancreatic cancer following his work on the mound of debris that was once the World Trade Center, along with the other horrors he has experienced over his long career.

His diagnosis in August hit Ladder 149 especially hard because a week earlier, another senior fighter, Ray Alba, died of throat cancer.

“It’s been a rough couple of months,” said Joseph Lapolla, a 13-year veteran at Engine 284, and worked with Alba and Ford at the 79th Street firehouse, which is also known as the “Castle on the Hill.”

“We’re doing this to honor them,” he said.

Ford was the senior man at Engine 284. He served his years as a firefighter and in recent years became what firefighters call the chauffeur, driving the trucks to emergencies. His quick thinking and short cuts around Brooklyn saved many lives, fellow firefighters said.

Ford is currently on sick leave from the FDNY, following his extensive treatments with chemotherapy. His medical costs are being paid by the city because he did get injured in the line of duty.

But the fundraiser is meant to help him and his family out during the holidays. “We want to put his family at ease,” said Lapolla, who is a good friend of Ford’s. “We don’t want them worrying about gifts or any finances for that matter; we want to get that out of the way until he gets better.”

Fundraiser for Bobby Ford. St. Patrick’s Church (9511 Fourth Ave. between 95th and 96th Streets), 7 pm. The $30 donation also buys dinner and entertainment. To buy tickets or donate, visit Engine 284/Ladder 149 (1161 79th St., between 11th and 12th avenues, in Dyker Heights) or call (718) 965-8284.

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