NORWICH – A local volunteer firefighter with over 36 years of service was recently diagnosed with a dire illness and has been struggling without health insurance.
Leroy Burlingame, 59, discovered he had pancreatitis and was hospitalized nearly four weeks ago. He is currently the 2nd Assistant Chief at the Plymouth Fire Department. Burlingame served 34 years the Norwich Fire Department as a volunteer and the last two at Plymouth, and was still active at the time of his diagnosis.
“My dad committed all those years to other people and now we’re going to help him,” said Leroy Burlingame III.
Thursday evening, 15 people, mostly firefighters and their families, came together at the Norwich fire station to organize a series of fundraisers to help battle Burlingame’s affliction and its mounting cost on his family.
The group is holding a “boot drive” Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., collecting pocket change and donations at several locations.
“If you see a Norwich or Plymouth fire truck in a parking lot, then we won’t be far away,” said Norwich Volunteer Capt. Jim Fowlston. The volunteers hope to be the patrolling parking lots at Lowe’s, Eckerd’s, Service Pharmacy, Grande’s Pizza and Country Max, all in Norwich.
Burlingame has three children, all of them volunteer firefighters. His oldest, Brenda, 24, has been a volunteer at Norwich for the last 8 years; his son Leroy, 23, has been at the Plymouth station for 7 years, along with his youngest, 16-year-old Travis.