Firefighter’s helmet goes missing
Kate Bruno's firefighter helmet was stolen while she was working mop-up activities at Paul's Resort last week.
Like most Valley firefighters, Kate Bruno brings her own helmet to work at the Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue Authority. Her leather helmet was a cherished gift her family bought to protect her, after she began battling blazes part-time with the local department six years ago.
That’s why she was more than distressed when her prized possession disappeared after she was dispatched to fight the fire at Paul’s Resort last Thursday. She showed up well after the initial 2:40 a.m. call, beginning her shift at 7:30 a.m. to finish cleaning up the destruction.
“We were putting out hot spots and doing the general clean up,” she said. “We were there all day until we had a medical call, which sent us to a house over by El Verano school.”
As her shift ended following the medical call, she went to look for her favorite fire fighting fashion, but it was gone. She went to each fire station in the Valley searching for it, posted messages on Facebook, contacted the neighbors by the sites she was working when it went missing and even posted fliers in Spanish and English, hoping that someone might have seen it and call her.
“I was freaking out,” she said, “They’re not cheap. This one was about $500.”
Already distraught, Bruno became even more anxious when she got a call from Division Chief John Franceschi that she needed to stop by the station on her day off to meet with him. “At first I was nervous, but when I got there, he said, “Did you ever find your helmet?’”
When she said no, he handed her a new, all-leather helmet.
“Someone, an anonymous donor, bought me a brand spanking new helmet,” she beamed. “I couldn’t believe it. I was bawling my eyes out when they gave it to me at the station. Seriously, it was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.”
Despite her best efforts, Bruno never found out the identity of her generous benefactor, but said she has already written that person a letter of sincere thanks.
“This has really changed my life,” she said. “I want to do something like this for someone else now, because it made me feel so good.”
If her missing helmet reappears, she plans to pass her newly gifted helmet along to another firefighter in need. The helmet can be dropped off at Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue Authority at 630 Second St. W., Sonoma, or call the station at 996-1003.