The Town of Hempstead honored 25 firefighters from several of its villages, including Rockville Centre, Wantagh, Levittown and Mineola at its annual firematic award ceremony on October 18 at the town hall.
While some of the firefighters received the award for rescues and deeds while on the job, Mineola ex-Captain Joseph Tartaglia Jr. received the 2012 award as a salute to his many years of service to the department – 43 years to be exact.
Nearly every member of the Mineola Fire Department was present at the evening’s award ceremony, honoring the achievement of the former captain.
Tartaglia said that winning the award had been the “third greatest night” of his life, coming only after his marriage to wife Annie Tartaglia and the day he joined the fire department of Mineola.
“It went by in the blink of an eye,” Tartaglia said recounting his 43 years with his fellow firefighters.
Known as the “Mineola Fire Department’s Go-to Guy,” Tartaglia is regarded as a shaper of young talent, including the current Chief, Joseph Pratt.
“Joe has always been someone I looked up to when I first joined the department,” Pratt said, focusing on the comradely of the Tartaglias and the department as a whole. “I could always count on him to be there. I’ve been very lucky to have both Joe and Annie as a part of our family.”
From the very beginning of his career, Tartaglia served as an example for future emergency responders by as the warden, trustee, and line officer for the Mineola Fire Department. His willingness to go above and beyond his responsibilities in each position allowed for his promotion to captain.
“I had great mentors when I was a ‘proby’ – new to the field,” Tartaglia said. “Now it is my turn to be a mentor to the guys that come after me.”