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Bayside firefighters’ craft to honor Sept. 11 victims

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Firefighters at Bayside's Engine 306 have built a wooden table, to be painted by Bayside High School art students, that will serve as the firehouse's Sept. 11 memorial.

Firefighter John LoGrasso got the idea after clearing wood out of the basement of Lt. Kevin Dowdell, a firefighter from Woodside's Rescue 4 who was killed Sept. 11.

Dowdell's wife had asked LoGrasso for help cleaning the basement, which contained wood her husband used to make oak floors, such as the one Dowdell installed at Rescue 4.

"The opportunity knocked," said LoGrasso, a woodworker himself, who brought the material to Engine 306 and got his co-workers to help him build the table.

"The oak was there, and we could use a new table. It all clicked."

The firehouse, at 41st Avenue and 214th Place, does not have an official memorial, LoGrasso said.

The oak table measures 8 feet long and nearly 4 feet wide and will be used as a kitchen table and gathering spot for Engine 306.

"The kitchen table in the firehouse is the meeting place. It's where we drill, it's our whole life," LoGrasso said. "The table is basically the heartbeat of the firehouse."

Carlo Casoria, a firefighter at Engine 306 whose brother Thomas, a firefighter, was killed at the World Trade Center, asked that his brother's name be put on the table.

Another firefighter at the company got his father to donate glass for the tabletop. LoGrasso also approached Bayside High School principal Judith Tarlo and the school's art coordinator, Aleta Levine, about getting students to paint the table with a memorial design.

Tarlo and Levine could not be reached for comment, but LoGrasso said Engine 306 members delivered the table to the school Monday.

Of Dowdell, LoGrasso said that the Breezy Point resident and 22-year Fire Department veteran was known to Bayside firefighters because his position on a rescue company led him to respond to emergencies not only in Woodside but throughout Queens.

Asked what he thought Dowdell would think of the memorial, LoGrasso said, "I think he would absolutely love it because he loved the Fire Department."

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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