The Mineola Fire Department family mourned the untimely loss of brother firefighter Robert “Skippy” Escaravage today. More than 100 firefighters, ladies auxiliary and Junior firefighters assembled to say farewell to their brother firefighter. This spirited and dedicated member left a legacy of service, smiles and an abundance of happiness behind.
Escaravage, 35, was a dedicated member of the MFD who first came into the department in 2003. He joined Engine Company Three and quickly earned himself a nickname.
Ex-Captain George Rowe recalls how as he first mentored firefighter Escaravage, he had difficulty pronouncing his name. After struggling with the pronunciation of Escaravage, Captain Rowe dubbed Bob “Skippy” and the name remains nearly a dozen years later.
He came to the fire service with a work ethic which is uncommon for today’s generation. Despite spending long days laboring as a self-employed landscaper, Escaravage still found time to complete the demanding training of primary training and essentials of firefighting. He was often found down the firehouse lending a hand maintaining the rigs or drilling on firefighting tactics.
Outside of training, Escaravage recognized that the fire department was more than just firefighting; it was about making a difference in the community. Early on he became involved in the Departments “Operation Santa” program which brings Santa and his friends to visit local children atop a Mineola Fire truck.
Escaravage enjoyed bringing smiles to the children’s faces and wanted to expand the program beyond Christmas. He pursued this idea and began planning how to expand the program to include Halloween too.
Working with his fellow firefighters, Escaravage designed elaborate Halloween displays which drew many children to the firehouse to view them.
Escaravage also understood the pride which firefighters take in their equipment and quarters. At Christmastime, he took painstaking detail to insure that the holiday decorations were perfect.
When the landscaping at Engine Three needed attention, it was Escaravage’s hand that transformed a brown, burned out lawn into showplace complete with lighting, a bench and even a pond. Much of the labor, time and materials came directly from him.
When Escaravage wasn’t working or fulfilling his duties at the firehouse, he was always making his friends laugh. Escaravage was known as a joker and in nearly every photo, he can be found with a smirk or smile. He also enjoyed attending New York Jets and Islander games and even dabbled in painting. Escaravage family recalled how he would tape “The Joy of Painting” and then recreate the masterpieces of Bob Ross.
To Escaravage, the fire department was more than just a job, it was a vocation. He answered the call to respond day in and day out at all hours. Escaravage would often sleep at the firehouse when storms approached to insure a prompt response.
It was this professionalism and dedication which undoubtedly influenced his peers to elect him second lieutenant in 2015. In recognition of the profound contribution he made to the company, the members of Engine Three approved to promote Lt. Escaravage to the rank of honorary captain.