Firefighters from 11 municipalities in the region came to Belleville this past Saturday to aid a fellow firefighter in need by giving blood.
They, along with members of the public, came to answer a distress call put out by the township and the Fireman’s Mutual Benevolent Association (FMBA), on behalf of rookie Firefighter Kevin Lissenden.
Belleville Fire Department Battalion Chief Tim Buckley, who helped organize the blood drive, said that on Oct. 28, Lissenden was involved in an accident in his private car on Rt. 495 that resulted in him being hospitalized and in need of blood transfusions.
A report published by NJ.com and attributed to police, said that a 2005 Nissan Maxima traveling east on Rt. 3, at around 3:30 a.m., went out of control as it moved onto Rt. 495 in North Bergen, spinning around several times before climbing the curb and hitting a guardrail.
The driver, Lissenden, was taken to the Jersey City Medical Center for treatment of multiple injuries, the report said.
On its website, the New Jersey FMBA said that Lissenden “suffered major trauma” and that “due to the accident and surgeries, Kevin is in need of our help.”
Lissenden, who attended St. Peter’s College, Jersey City, worked as a pipefitter before applying for a firefighter position with the Belleville Fire Department. He was appointed to the department, along with eight other recruits, on April 24, 2012.
Carl Piscatowski, one of those nine rookies, was at Fire Headquarters on S. Franklin Ave. on Saturday to give blood. He and Lissenden were assigned to ambulance duty on the same rotation. They took turns driving.
“He’d work and then go home to his family – just like me,” Piscatowski said. “That’s what he enjoys.”
Lissenden and his wife Desiree have three children. Belleville Firefighter Jim Coponi, who will start his 25th year on the job in February, called Lissenden “a great guy, easy to work with, conscientious. He’s a good kid – always there if you need something.”
Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Saturday, a dozen volunteers from the Blood Center of New Jersey set up accordion cots for donors and extracted one pint of blood from each donor.
Of the more than 150 individuals who showed up to give blood, about 10 had to be turned away because of medical issues that made them ineligible and 30 couldn’t be accommodated because there wasn’t sufficient time to get to everyone, according to Buckley.
By the end of the day, the Blood Center volunteers had taken blood from about 110 donors, including firefighters from Belleville, Nutley, Passaic, Newark, Bloomfield, Paterson, Teaneck and elsewhere, plus “quite a few” folks who came from Bayonne, Lissenden’s hometown, Buckley said.
“So, not only were we doing something for Kevin,” said Buckley, “we were also doing something to help the Blood Center bank.”
On Thursday, Nov. 14, Belleville FMBA Locals 29 and 229 will sponsor a “Casino Night” fundraiser for Jeff Tamburri, brother of Belleville Fire Dept. Lt. Bill Tamburri, who was left paralyzed by an accident.
The event will be held at the Chandelier Restaurant, 340 Franklin Ave., Belleville, from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Proceeds will go to help offset Tamburri’s medical expenses. The $75 admission includes food, beer, wine and entry chips for prize tickets. Gift donations and table sponsors are welcomed. For information, call Anthony Palermo at 973- 951-1108 or Nick Auriemma Sr. at 973-699-6807.
– Ron Leir