The Mineola Junior Fire Department held their annual officer installation dinner this past Saturday night at the firehouse on Washington Avenue.
Coming back from a recent call on Maple Place, a large contingent of the fire company was present, including juniors from Mineola as well as junior companies from Franklin Square, East Rockaway, East Norwich, Garden City Park, Syosset and Glen Cove.
“This is a great bunch of junior firefighters we have this year and I think that they’ve got a future in the ,” said Bill Gresalfi, who was also the recipient of a video tribute which was played during the buffet dinner.
Five members of the junior fire department will be joining the main company this year. There are currently 21 members in the junior fire department. Of the current members of the Mineola Fire Department, 51 of them have started in the junior fire department and four former members have become chiefs: Scott Strauss, Scott Holiday, Rob Connelly and Joe Pratt.
“I want to say thank you to all the parents for supporting the kids over the year and I look forward to another exciting year this year,” ex-Chief Gary Mazur said.
As part of the department’s 35th anniversary year, the juniors are set to travel to Hamburg, Germany for 10 days this summer as part of a . Last year German junior firefighters .
The ceremony also paid tribute to , a 25 year member of the department who passed away at the end of January.
“It was a huge loss to the department and especially the juniors,” Fernandes said. “We were family to him.”
Mineola had the unique honor of not only swearing in Michael Fernandes as the new captain but Justin Sandler and his own son Christopher to their new roles as lieutenants.
“I can’t tell you how odd this feels,” the Mayor said, “but it certainly is a great honor to be standing here as Mayor of Mineola and helping the junior fire department on a great path. Michael’s a great kid as are the two lieutenants as well as the entire junior fire department of Mineola.”
Several awards were given out to the juniors including the 100 point awards, based on number of calls which the juniors attended. The list included Fernandes, Patrick Lynch, Michael McCabe, Dylan Murphy, Justin Sandler and Christopher Strauss
“The junior fire department is a great organization and here in Mineola we all share laughs and play jokes on each other but all in all we like to have fun here,” Fernandes said, thanking all the juniors who supported him. “When we first joined none of this was natural to us. We gained a lot of knowledge from learning and listening to the members while we trained and even listening to each other when we knew things that others didn’t.”
The night’s biggest award – firefighter of the year – went to Lynch, currently a sophomore at who joined the department in the summer of 2009.
“Us advisors noticed how willing he was to learn and participate in the vigorous training that junior firefighters go through in Mineola,” Gresalfi said.
“When he’s down here he’s dedicated,” Strauss said of Lynch. “He’s a great kid, he’s a great role model for the others.”
For the next 10 minutes, Lynch received awards, certificates and proclamations from the village board, and local politicians including , , Gov. Cuomo, Nassau County , among others.
“Thanks guys for all the awards,” Lynch said in response.
“That’s it?” a voice from the back was heard.
“I’d like to thank the academy...” came Lynch’s reply, presumably meaning the fire academy, and eliciting a round of laughter from the crowd.