Friday, May 17, 2013

Reuse and Recycle! J/20 Prototype Mast Becomes Bristol Fire Department Flag-pole!

J/20 sailboat mast- Bristol Fire Department flagpole! (Bristol, RI)-  Here's an amusing anecdote from adventures in J/Boats history from Alan Johnstone (designer of the recent J/70 & J/111 fame):

"Last summer our buddy Tim Greves from the J/111 WICKED 2.0 crew, the Past Captain of the Bristol Fire Department (as well as sailmaker extraordinaire from Thurston Sails, RI) posted an open ad on Facebook announcing that the Bristol Fire Department was looking for a new flag pole for the firehouse.

Low and behold I jumped at the opportunity, having just gotten an earful from my wife Laurie about getting rid of an old Dwyer aluminum mast that was decaying in the back of our garden (attracting varmints, bees, moss and whatever else…). Tt was perfect timing. I immediately sent Tim a message about the mast and two weeks later a couple of guys from the fire department drove down to Stonington, CT and carted away the forgotten mast from the weeds on Farmholme Road.

The mast was originally used on a single swept spreader rigged 20' prototype boat that J/Boats had built several years before.  From what I understand, the guys at the firehouse did some extensive repairs and modifications to the brackets on the house and then thoroughly cleaned up, modified and painted the mast to suit it's new purpose.  They recently had a dedication ceremony for the new flag pole in Bristol and Tim sent along the attached photos of the finished pole standing proudly above the Bristol Fire House."

Here's the story as reported in the local newspaper:

"On Sunday, a small group of Bristol’s fire and rescue department, their friends, family and a few elected officials gathered on the corner of Church Street and High Street to celebrate a simple, yet significant act that the members of Dreadnaught Fire Company haven’t been able to do for quite a long time. While the notes of “Reveille,” as played by trumpeter Justin Teixeira, pierced the quiet neighborhood, Dreadnaught firefighter Water “Rocky” Monrue had the honor of raising the American flag above the town’s fire station, an act that reflects the honor of duty that all first responders share.

“We have been without a flagpole and have been unable to fly our nation’s flag for at least eight years,” Captain A.J. Medeiros, commanding officer of Dreadnaught Company, said as part of the ceremony.

In 2004, he said, the original, wooden flagpole that held the country’s banner from 1900 became rotted and could no longer be used. Because the company could not afford to replace the pole, the flag was not displayed on the station.

To help get the American flag back up over the Dreadnaught Company, J-Boats of Newport donated a sailing mast as suitable substitute. Mr. Monrue took on the project of converting the mast into a flagpole, a project that took “countless hours” of re-design, preparation and fabrication. On top of the new pole, Mr. Monrue secured the sculptured eagle that was salvaged from the original flagpole, effectively linking the past with the present.

Recognizing the hours of painstaking work that Mr. Monrue volunteered to construct the flagpole, Capt. Medeiros graciously thanked him, along with Mrs. Monrue “for allowing him to work on it in the garage.”

Capt. Medeiros remarked that the flag is more than “a piece of cloth varying in size, shape, color and design.” It’s “also a symbol of hope, freedom, strength and courage,” he said. “The flag is not just a symbol, but a feeling and a personality.”

Calling the American flag a symbol of sacrifice made by those past and present, Capt. Medeiros said he wants the Dreadnaught’s flagpole to be an extension of that symbolism, in memory of the company’s past members.

“May we look up and be reminded of their sacrifices and be grateful for what we have,” he said.

With the flag billowing in the breeze overhead, those present saluted or stood with their hands over their hearts, listening as Victoria Carroll sang the National Anthem.

After the ceremony, guests toured the historical fire station and viewed the artifacts inside that depict over a century of the fire company’s history and traditions. Dreadnaught Fire station is home to Ladder One and Truck Six. It also houses Engine Four and Marine One.

“Our past members are never forgotten,” said Capt. Medeiros.

Among those the company pays homage to are Michael Andrade, the first Rhode Islander to die in battle fighting in Iraq. A photo of Mr. Andrade is displayed on a table alongside a framed American flag. On a nearby wall, the company charter is draped in a black cloth in memory of Fred Serbst, a former member of the company who recently died after battling cancer.