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Trailer given to firefighter who lost home in Irma

By CLAIRE GALVIN

Chronicle Staff Writer

MANSFIELD — On a day-to-day basis, the Mansfield Fire Department is well-known for helping members of the community in their worst times of need.

This time though, Mansfield firefighters are helping someone 1,500 miles away.

Through the fire department, Mansfield’s Greg Zlotnick donated a trailer home to a fire captain in Florida who lost his entire home in Hurricane Irma in early September.

Zlotnick, the president and chief executive officer of Zlotnick Construction, reached out to the Mansfield Fire Department to see how he could donate his trailer home to someone in need.

“I knew I could sell the trailer, but I figured I’d just as well give it to someone that could use it, as long as they pay it forward to the next person in need,” Zlotnick said.

The fire department had the connections to find a firefighter in Florida who lost his home in the recent hurricane.

Mansfield Fire Department Capt. Ryan Hawthorne visited Marathon, Fla., in July as part of a family vacation.

“We spent some time at the firehouse talking to the guys down there,” Hawthorne said. “I was later able to find the same guy that I spoke to while I was down there to ask him what their situation was.”

Hawthorne said the man pointed him to a fire captain who “lost everything.”

Marathon Fire Department Shift Capt. Joe Forcine, of Little Torch Key, Fla., said after non-stop fire and paramedic shifts, he returned home to find his house uninhabitable, with four to five feet of water flooded through.

“I couldn’t salvage anything,” Forcine said. “I could only take what I could bring to my office with me. I’ve been living in my office since the beginning of September.”

The Mansfield Fire Department, Zlotnick and other residents cleaned up the 2005, 37-foot trailer home and sent it down to Florida recently.

Forcine, his girlfriend and his three children are now living as a family again.

“Our lives are a thousand times better now,” Forcine said. “I’m so grateful.”

Hawthorne said his mother, Kathleen Armstrong, spent hours cleaning the trailer and buying all new kitchen appliances, linens and more.

“She thought of everything,” Forcine said. “Every toothbrush, pot and fork. All the stuff that we definitely need to live.”

Besides Zlotnick’s company, Hawthorne also said Mansfield’s T&B Motors Inc. outfitted Hawthorne’s truck to haul the trailer at no charge.

“This is a community effort,” Mansfield Fire Chief Fran Raiola said. “We have a few business owners that stepped up, primarily Zlotnick Construction. But we had T&B helping, the fire department and residents like Ryan’s mom to help people across the country. It is a great thing.”

The whole experience shows the tight connections shared between all firefighters, no matter the distance between them.

“You feel like these guys would do that for you,” Hawthorne said. “So, we had no problem helping them out.”

 

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