Friday, June 20, 2008

Local Fire Departments

Local volunteer fire departments have always been a mainstay of Long Island communities. The Hewlett Fire Department has provided volunteer service to the community since 1891. The picture below shows Empire Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 of Woodmere, about 1905. The Nassau County Firemen's Association was founded in 1903 and since then Nassau County summers have been punctuated with parades and tournaments which spotlight the friendly competition between neighboring fire departments.

A 1909 article in The New York Times recounts how 20,000 people assembled to view a parade of 4,000
firemen to the Fulton Field area of Hempstead (near Hempstead Town Hall).

Empire Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1 (Woodmere)

The accompanying picture (left) was taken June 19, 1950 at the 40th Annual Nassau County Firemen's Association Tournament, held on the tournament grounds at Prospect and Union Avenues. An article in the June 16th issue of the Nassau Herald portrays the expected festivities:

"Some 45 departments will be represented in line of march together with 40 bands and a total of over 3300 men and women and 175 fire engines. The marchers will assemble on the corner of Prospect Ave. and Broadway. Grant Park, Hewlett and will parade on Broadway to Franklin Place, Woodmere, pass a reviewing stand at the corner of Hartwell Place and Broadway and return to the tournament grounds ..."

Attending dignitaries included Grand Marshall George Metzler, former chief of the Hewlett Fire Department; Superintendent of School District 14 Chauncey Ogden; County Executive J. Russel Sprague, and local clergy.

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