Staff writers

Lots of people have given money to help hurricane victims on the Gulf Coast. Firefighters in Milford and Shelton on Tuesday gave fire engines.

AmeriCares, based in Stamford, provided flatbed trailers to haul the fire engines to their new assignments in Mississippi.

"We're glad for the people in Mississippi," said Christopher Rowan, spokesman for AmeriCares.

In Milford, fire officials donated a 1988 Pierce Fire Engine pumper to the Waveland (Miss.) Fire Department. Hurricane Katrina destroyed more than a half-dozen emergency vehicles and a fire station in that Gulf Coast town. Fire Chief Louis LaVecchia said city firefighters wanted to help their peers in the South during their time of need.

"If we could give it, we thought it would be the least thing we could do," LaVecchia said.

Waveland "is a community that is totally devastated. It is a population of 10,000 people and a firefighting force of 39 people.

"They had two stations, and they completely lost one station; they had six pumper trucks and lost five of them."

The Pierce Fire Engine can pump 1,000 gallons of water a minute and has assisted city firefighters for nearly two decades, Fire Capt. Harold Streit said.

"It was on the front lines for the majority of its career. It took some good beatings," Streit said, adding that the city planned to replace it with a new pumper next year.

The Milford Fire Department teamed up with AmeriCares because of its response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Streit said.

"I think they are one of the most responsible groups out there," Streit said. "Their hearts are in the right place. They were one of the groups that stepped up to the plate during 9-11."

In Shelton, the gift was a 1973 Hahn pumper truck. It has 30,000 miles and lots of life left in it, said Mayor Mark A. Lauretti.

Lauretti said it was Fire Commission Chairman Robert Araujo's idea to donate the surplus engine to the Gulf Coast. It had been replaced by new equipment about a year ago.

The engine last served in White Hills Co. No. 5, and by Tuesday afternoon it was on its way to Kiln, Miss.

"It was entirely refurbished in 1989, so it has a lot of good use left," said Shelton Police Detective John Hubyk, who watched over the engine parked outside the police station until AmeriCares arrived.

"It was a mess down there," Hubyk said of the Gulf Coast, where he volunteered for a week.

For AmeriCares, the job was to move the fire engines to where they were needed.

Beth Walsh, spokeswoman for AmeriCares, said AmeriCares got involved after a call from Gov. M. Jodi Rell.