Written by: MFD
On December 8, 1888, a group of men met in a school house on Willis Avenue to discuss the formation of a volunteer fire department in Mineola.Three weeks later, on Christmas Day, Mineola Hook and Ladder Company #1 was formed. The subscription committee reported $96 had been pledged to support the new company.
On February 8, 1889, the first regular meeting was held in the school house with 23 members present. The minutes report a committee was appointed to investigate the possibility of purchasing a fire wagon from a volunteer company in East New York. Also, a committee was to meet the following night with the trustees of the church to get their permission to keep the fire wagon in a shed on church property.
At the second meeting on March 8, 1889, a uniform was discussed and it was decided not to spend more than $5 for a hat, shirt and belt for each member. It was later decided that the members would pay for their own uniform and, on August 31, 1890, a special meeting was called to distribute them.
Their first fire wagon cost $385 and arrived from East New York on March 25, 1889. It was kept in the aforementioned shed on church property at Main and First Streets.
One of the first social events of the new company was a ball held on April 25, 1889, in the Queens County Agricultural Society’s Dining Hall at the fairgrounds. A profit of $51.15 was reported. Another fund raising event was a Japanese Tea Party given by the wives of the members with a profit of $145.84.
The company rolled to their first fire on April 29, 1889. A notation in the fire record reads as follows: “barn shed, carriage house and corn crib, property of Mrs. Caroline L. Smith of Mineola, with entire contents except carriages, consisting of six good horses, three cows, about seven tons of hay, one ton straw, four sets double and two sets single harness, two sleighs, lot potatoes and three barrels vinegar consumed by fire discovered about 1:30 a.m. Insurance in the Home Insurance Company of New York for $2,350, estimated loss $4,000”.
The exact date of the first truck house (Firehouse), which was built on Main Street south of the railroad, is not know but, a motion was passed at the meeting on August 31, 1889, to have the secretary communicate with a Mr. Willetts in reference to a lot for the purpose of erecting a Firehouse. On January 1, 1899, at the first meeting of the Nassau County Board of Supervisors, the truck house of Mineola Hook and Ladder Company #1 was chosen as a temporary home of the Nassau County Court. The Nassau County Firemen’s Association also held their first Annual Meeting and Election of Officers in the truck house on April 15, 1903, and continued to meet there until 1922. The building also served as a civic center with many Village organizations holding their meetings there. It also housed the Village Officials before they moved to 171 Jericho Turnpike and then on to their current location at 155 Washington Avenue.
In 1906, Henry W. Skinner was the fourth man elected as President to the Nassau County Firemen’s Association and the first from Mineola.
On April 19, 1907, the Mineola Village Board, pursuant to Chapter 315 of the Laws of 1887 of the State of New York, unanimously passed the resolution for the incorporation of the Jericho Turnpike Engine and Hose Company #1 of Mineola (or Company #2 today). The very next day, the first official meeting of the Company was held in Krause’s Florist Shop. Two separate and independent fire companies now protect the Village of Mineola.
The new Company’s first order of business was to appoint a committee to purchase equipment and apparatus, find a suitable place to hold meetings and recruit membership. This Company would continue to hold meetings at Krause’s Florist for six years.
Organization was the main topic in the early years. At the May 16, 1907 meeting, it was decided that on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, the new Company would hold its regular meeting. Today, all three Companies continue to hold their meetings on this night. The new Company purchased badges and uniforms for its members. They began holding picnics, fairs, and parades to raise money.
On March 30, 1907, a committee from the second Company was appointed to purchase fire apparatus and necessary equipment. On December 10, 1907, the first 500 feet of Maltese hose with connections and nozzles, was purchased for the sum of $300. Then, on January 14, 1908, a two-wheel hose reel was purchased from a fire department in Rhode Island, also for the sum of $300. It was housed in the Krug Hotel barn and at the Andrew Burkhard farm for quite some time, until a Firehouse was built.
During the year of 1908, the new Company continued to grow. Training standards were set and meetings were held with Mineola Hook & Ladder Company #1 (Engine Co. 1 today) for the purpose of electing one Fire Chief for both departments and combining their parades and tournaments. The firemen’s fair continued to grow. Planning a new Firehouse was underway for the second Company.
In 1909, the Jericho Turnpike Engine & Hose Company #1 joined the Nassau County Firemen’s Association. This Company requested that the Village purchase a fire alarm to alert members in the event of a call. On March 9, 1909, a huge steel ring was purchased from a company in Flower Hill and it was suspended between two wooden poles. To sound it, someone would have to rattle the ring. Also on this date, lots situated on Jericho Turnpike, known and designated on a map of the Mineola Park Company as Lots 15 & 16, also known as the Woodnut Farm, were bought to build a Firehouse to house the second Company.
On April 9, 1909, at 1:15 a.m., a fire was discovered in the Pine Store, which was part of the Firehouse on Main Street for the Mineola Hook and Ladder Company #1. In the minutes of the May meeting, the following notation was made: “connected hose to hydrant, broke into store and played hose until there was no more sign of fire”. The cause was listed as: “rats and mice came into contact with matches which ignited an accumulation of paper in the store”. Damage to the Pine Store was $1,000 and damage to the Bowling Alley in the basement of the Firehouse was an additional $1,000 and caused mostly by water.
On March 8, 1910, the Village Clerk submitted a letter to both protection Companies to determine if they were willing to let the Village use its fire apparatus until such time when the Village could take over said equipment. It was approved, provided that the Village pay rent. This began the process of combining both Fire Companies to become part of the Village government as we know it today. Just four years after Mineola became an Incorporated Village, the Village Officials passed a resolution that the Fire Companies be organized, and that Mineola Hook and Ladder Company #1 (Company #1) and Jericho Turnpike Engine and Hose Company #1 (Company #2) be reorganized into a Village Volunteer Fire Department.
Jericho Turnpike Engine and Hose Company #1 (Company #2) still needed a Firehouse, so with the land that was purchased only a year earlier, bids were received. On July 19, 1912, William Hicks was awarded the bid to build the Firehouse for the total sum of $8,395.
The grand day and christening of the new Firehouse took place on March 20, 1913. The following month, on April 8th, Mr. Robert Graves presented Company #2 with its first motorized automobile. On June 30, 1913, it was painted and converted into a Fire truck by William Unger. That same year, a new truck was purchased and the donated car was sold.
In 1913, the population of Mineola was less than 3,000, and only six fires were reported that year, one of them being on October 21st when the Andrews Hotel, a landmark throughout Nassau County, burned.
On April 5, 1917, Mineola Hook and Ladder Company #1 (Company #1) had one two-horse hose truck, one two-horse hook and ladder and one hand hose reel. In November, a resolution was adopted to sell all fire equipment to the Village for the sum of $1,300.
Again, during the next four years, membership grew and many practices and traditions that we follow today were established. Then, at a special meeting held on March 23, 1920, a resolution was approved for all property, building and equipment owned by Jericho Turnpike Engine & Hose Company #1 (Company #2) be sold to the Village of Mineola for the sum of one dollar. It was further stated that the Village secure a mortgage of $5,000 to pay off the Company’s remaining debt on the Firehouse. At this point, both Fire Companies were united and Jericho Turnpike Engine & Hose Company #1 of Mineola became known as Mineola Fire Department Truck Company #2. A new Stultz Fire Engine was purchased and a request was made to the Boy Scouts for their assistance in performing fire patrols. Standard operating procedures were set and the Fire Police was organized. The Department was contacted to determine if it was interested in providing fire protection for Williston Park and East Williston, as well as the Droesch Property in Albertson. This never came to be.
On February 10, 1921, a motorized truck was put into service by the Mineola Hook and Ladder Company #1 (Company #1) marking the end of horse drawn equipment in Mineola. At the regular Fire Council meeting on August 18, 1921, Chief Frank Godesky spoke of forming a new company east of the railroad tracks. A motion was made and seconded that the Department proceed with plans for a new company, Hose Company #3, and that the people east of the tracks be notified to get together to hold a joint meeting with the Fire Council. The motion was carried. In October of 1921, the residents of the East End began a fund raising campaign for their own Firehouse, by holding annual barn dances.
Hose Company #3 of the Mineola Fire Department was formally organized on August 22, 1922. Before Company #3’s Firehouse was built, the Firemen held their meetings either in their own homes, in Company #1’s Firehouse on Main Street, or in Company #2’s Firehouse on Jericho Turnpike. The original fire alarm was set off from the Water Works Building on Elm Place. After the Nassau County Police Department took over the alarm system, the Firemen had to call the police station from a call box located on a pole across from the Water Works. The only piece of firefighting equipment on the East Side of the railroad tracks was a hose reel that was formerly the property of Company #2. Company #3 kept this equipment in a small building, about the size of a one-car garage, that was located alongside the original water tower on the west side of Elm Place. This building was torn down to make room for the current water tower.
Company #3’s Firehouse was erected by the original members of the Company in their spare time and opened in 1923. The members were required to pay twenty-five cents for a key to the Firehouse and an additional twenty-five cents per month for dues. The dues are still a requirement, but the purchasing of keys has been abolished. The ownership of the Firehouse was transferred from the members of Company #3 to the Village of Mineola on November 30, 1923, for the sum of one dollar. The mortgage on the property had become too much of a burden for Company #3.
In 1924, Company #3 received its first piece of motorized apparatus, a hose wagon manufactured by White. This hose wagon was formerly the property of Mineola Hook & Ladder Company #1 (Company #1).
By 1925, the Firehouse for Mineola Hook & Ladder Company #1 (Company #1), which also housed the Village Hall, had fallen into disrepair. The Village Board decided to expand Company #2’s Firehouse.
In 1927, Company #3 received its first new piece of apparatus, a 1000 gallon per minute Seagrave pumper.
The entire Firehouse on Jericho Turnpike was renovated with the Truck room facing Washington Avenue on the rear of the building. The existing Firehouse was converted into the new Village Hall. Both fire Companies were then housed in the new quarters. The new building was dedicated in 1928 and is know as Headquarters.
Company #3 set a new Drill Team record in the Class C ladder contest in Floral Park in 1929.
On July 3, 1932, Company #3 had its first serious casualty. James McKinley broke his ankle while fighting a fire at Bank’s Lumberyard on Elm Place. His ankle developed gangrene and his leg had to be amputated. Company #3 went on a door-to-door campaign to collect donations to pay his mortgage. Also that year, Company #3 won the total point trophy at the Annual Labor Day Firemen’s Tournament in Floral Park for the third consecutive year. That trophy was retired and now hangs proudly on the wall of Company #3’s Firehouse.
At the March 1934 meeting, Company #3 was officially changed from a Hose Company to an Engine Company.
In March 1937, the Ladies Auxiliary of Company #3 was organized. In 1956, it was changed to include the other two companies. In addition, the first telephone was installed at Company #3 and the Wardens were instructed to ask the Village for a teletype system to be installed so that each Company could be notified of the location of a fire at the same time.
On February 22, 1953, Company #3 received a new 500 gallon per minute Ford pumper, which was placed into service as Engine 166.
In 1955, Company #3 received a new Ford utility truck, which was later assigned to Company #1.
On June 18, 1956, Company #3 received a 1000 gallon per minute Ward La France pumper, which was placed into service as Engine 163.
The Company #3 Firehouse was enlarged with a Ladies’ Restroom and a Storage Room in 1962.
In 1963, 105 fires were reported. The largest occurred on Main Street when Richmond’s Hardware store was declared a total loss on Thursday, June 27th.
The Mineola Hotel fire hits the front page of all local newspapers. One person is found dead in this arson-related fire in 1966.
The Mineola Fire Department dedicated the Radio Room at Headquarters in memory of 2nd Assistant Chief Ernest Nonelle who died in Office in 1970.
August 22, 1972 marked the Golden Anniversary of Company #3. To celebrate the occasion, a dinner dance was held at the Roslyn Country Club.
In 1975, the Fire Council accepted a bid of $102,989 from the Seagrave Company for the new 166. In April, Company #3 celebrated its first member reaching his 50th Anniversary in the Mineola Fire Department.
A 1250 gallon per minute Seagrave pumper was delivered to Company #3 and placed into service as Engine 166 in 1976 replacing the 1953 Ford.
In 1976 and for the second time in its history, the Mineola Fire Department mourns the loss of one of its leaders as the Chief of the Department Jack Levatino succumbs to a heart attack. The rescue truck manufactured by Com Coach is dedicated to his honor.
The Mineola Junior Fire Department is organized in 1976.
In 1979, two new 1250 gallon per minute Seagrave pumpers were delivered to Company #1 and Company #3 and were placed into service as Engines 169 and 163. These Engines replaced a 1956 (163) and a 1959 (169) Ward La France.
On March 19, 1983 Company #3 dedicated its new, larger and more modern quarters, next door to its old Firehouse. The old structure is still serving the emergency needs of the Village of Mineola as the Headquarters for the Mineola Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
In September 1988, the first female firefighter joined Company #3 and she was the first in the Mineola Fire Department’s 100 year history.
A 103 foot Bronto Skylift Boom Truck was placed into service in 1990 to replace the 1968 Ward La France Snorkel Truck.
In 1993, 1 1750 gallon per minute Emergency One pumper was delivered to Company #3 and placed into service as Engine 166, replacing the 1976 Seagrave at a price of $371,750 which is a far cry from the cost of the first apparatus purchased, a hose wagon for $385. In addition, a 105 foot rear-mount Emergency One Aerial Ladder was placed into service as Truck 165 replacing the 100 foot 1971 Seagrave Tiller.
In 1996, the Department receives a Unit Citation for a major fire at 6 Birchwood Court.
August 22, 1997 marked the Diamond Jubilee Anniversary of Company #3. This milestone event was commemorated with a gala celebration at the Roslyn Country Club, the same site as its 50th Anniversary Celebration.
In 1998, the population in Mineola exceeds 30,000 and the Fire Department responds to its all time high, 399 fire calls.
Two days before Christmas, 1999, a house fire at 108 Arlington Street cost two residents their lives. They were pulled from the inferno alive and transported to the hospital. The Department received a Unit Citation and 9 members received individual awards.
At the beginning of the new millennium, Headquarters on Washington Avenue is completely renovated adding on two new bays for a total of six bays to house the newer and larger equipment that is needed in today’s firefighting.
In 2002, two new pumpers are purchased to replace the 1979 Seagrave’s 163 and 169.
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