Fire Department Comes Long Way In 175 Years

Huntington Fire Department has come a long way from its 1843 origins.

Huntington Fire Department has come a long way from its 1843 origins.

By Danielle Ranucci

Huntington Fire Department has come a long way from its 1843 origins.

Back then, while Huntington residents moved to form a fire brigade, they lacked access to a fire engine. Instead, members of the newly-formed brigade brought leather buckets filled with water from their homes and used them to fight fires.


“We still have the buckets,” said Neil Getter, an ex-chief of the department.

Starting in 1887 and continuing through 1910, Huntington firefighters rode horses supplied by local resident Stephen Todd. Todd’s daughter, Miss Mollie, went on to become in 1902 the Huntington Fire Department’s first honorary member.

In 1910, the department received a Grabowsky Hose Truck, one of Long Island’s first motorized fire trucks. “We were ahead of our time,” Getter said.

Since then, Huntington firefighters have worked hard to keep residents safe.

And a celebration of that 175 years of dedication is planned for next weekend.

“This celebration is a give-back from the fire department to the community,” said Getter, who is also chairman of the 175th anniversary committee.

Festivities include a parade and gala fair that promises to be packed with family fun.

It all starts 4 p.m., July 28 with a parade setting out from Huntington Town Hall on Main Street and proceeding to fire department headquarters on Leverich Place.

The parade will feature members of 20 Long Island fire departments and the New York Police Department. Grand marshal of the parade will be Honorary Chief Henry Gerdes, who has served 70 years with the department.

In addition to modern fire engines, the parade will feature the “Mercheen,” Huntington Fire Department’s original hand-drawn pumper from 1845. “It really works,” Getter said.

After the parade, department headquarters will host from 5-11 p.m. a gala fair that will feature bouncy houses, slides, pony rides and a dunk tank, music of The Little Wilson Band, and free refreshments.

All are welcome to “participate in the celebration of the community’s firefighters who have been volunteers since 1843,” Getter said.

Current Fire Chief Robert Conroy thanked members of the 175th anniversary committee for their work to plan the event and encouraged locals to come out for the fun next weekend.

He said, “It’s an absolute honor to be chief of department this year for the 175th anniversary. The sheer hard work and dedication on a daily basis of my membership is astounding and I could not be prouder of them. Not to mention that for over three years our 175th anniversary committee has been diligently working on putting together a proper celebration that will no doubt be monumental.”

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