Newfound friendship between local, N.Y. firefighters cut short

Dan Rodricks

BACK ON Jan. 28, Super Bowl Sunday, the phone rang at a Baltimore County fire station, and LeRoy Edmunds picked up. This is Vinny Princiotta, the caller said. New York City Fire Department, Engine 16/Ladder 7. "We wanna make a bet on the game."

The Giants were about to play the Ravens. This Princiotta wanted to make it interesting and have some fun with guys from a Baltimore firehouse with a comparable number. He'd been calling around. He couldn't find an Engine 16 in Baltimore City. So he settled for the one in the county -- Station 16, Golden Ring.

"Come on, who is this?" said Edmunds, 35 years old and 12 of them a firefighter.

This is Vinny Princiotta, the caller said. "I wanna make a bet."

Edmunds sniffed a stationhouse prank. The New York accent sounded authentic, but he didn't bite.

"Let me call you back," Edmunds said.

When he did, he got Engine 16/Ladder 7 in Manhattan and spoke again to this Princiotta character, who was, of course, bustin' chops about the Giants trouncing the Ravens.

OK, Edmunds agreed, you got a bet.

How about 20 T-shirts?

If the Giants were to win, the guys from Station 16 would give up 20 BCFD T-shirts to the guys in New York. If the game went the other way, then the guys at Engine 16/Ladder 7 would send 20 of theirs south.

Deal?

Deal.

Baltimore won the game, of course, and Edmunds found himself in the enviable position of winning a bet with a brassy New Yorker.

He called Manhattan the next day.

"Is Vinny Princiotta there?" Edmunds asked.

"There's nobody here by that name," Princiotta said with a laugh, then promised to make good on the bet. He invited Edmunds to the Big Apple to collect.

In April, Edmunds and some comrades -- Lt. Butch Polesne and firefighters Dave Oliver and Dave Dryden -- made the trip to Manhattan and got the T-shirts. They stayed at Engine 16/ Ladder 7, 29th Street and Second Avenue, and the guys there treated them like brothers.

"Oh my God, they were so nice to us," Edmunds recalled yesterday. "We went up there for two days and stayed overnight. ... Food? Oh my God, they made hamburgers that had to weigh a pound apiece. There was pasta and chicken breast. One plate looked like a serving for four."

Princiotta and a firefighter named Patty Boylan showed them some sights, including the nearby Empire State Building, the landmark that appears, as an icon, on one of their trucks. Edmunds noticed a proud claim in large letters on Ladder 7's truck: "We Can Do That."

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