On Sunday June 3, fire service chiefs, officers, county officials and dignitaries assembled for the annual Installation of Officers of the 6th Battalion where Ex Chief Robert Hughes was sworn in as chairman and honored with an official citation.
This year’s event highlighted yet another outstanding career of Hughes who has dedicated most of his life to our community and the fire service.
Hughes was also awarded an official citation from the Town of Hempstead Supervisor, Laura Gillen. “Chief Hughes has spent his entire career, risking life and limb, protecting thousands of lives and millions of dollars worth of property,” Gillen said. “His election marks a proud day for every resident in the Town of Hempstead and throughout Nassau County, who can feel safe knowing what a true professional is standing watch.”
To honor the achievement of Hughes, the East Meadow Fire Department will host the annual parade and drill of the 6th Battalion on August 25. On this date, an old fashioned drill competition will be held at the Four Town Firefighter’s Training Center on Merrick Road in Merrick. All residents are invited to come out and support the East Meadow Fire Department’s Meadowlarks Drill Team.
The evening will be capped with a parade at 5 p.m. through the streets of East Meadow from Prospect Ave. to East Meadow Ave., ending at the East Meadow Fire Headquarters where a block party will take place. Come on out and support the East Meadow Fire Department as they compete for best appearing in the line of march.
Hughes, of East Meadow’s Engine Company #2, joined the East Meadow Fire Department on January 21, 1980. In 1984, he was elected to the position of Second Lieutenant of Engine 2. In the years that followed, Hughes would be elected to First Lieutenant in 1985, and on to Company Captain in 1986.
His continued strong work ethic and leadership ability made Hughes a fine choice for higher office. In 1994, he was elected Third Assistant Chief. In the years that followed he would be elected Second Assistant Chief Chief in 1995, First Assistant Chief in 1996, and on to Chief of Department in 1997.
That year, Hughes became instrumental in forming the East Meadow Fire Department Chief’s Association. This group, comprised of past chiefs in the department, would serve as the support to the current Chief’s Office assisting in any way necessary to maintain our great department.
After retiring from a successful career, Hughes fire service expertise led him to start a new career as a Deputy Chief Fire Instructor at the Nassau County Fire Service Academy. Often considered one of the best in the nation, the Fire Service Academy has been the breeding ground for the best-trained firefighters in the fire service for more than 60 years.
Not long after, Hughes was appointed to the East Meadow Fire Department Training Committee. This group is comprised of the most elite members of the East Meadow Fire Department who dedicate their time to providing the training to all new members, assisting with large-scale response drills, and classroom seminars.
After years of teaching, Hughes skills once again could not be overlooked. He soon would be promoted to Chief Instructor of the Fire Service Academy as the highest in command, to ensure the county training facility continues to meet the needs of today’s ever changing fire service.
His fire service interest also led Hughes to learn the bagpipes decades ago. Today he is the bandleader of the Nassau County Firefighters Pipes and Drum Band, the pride of the Nassau County Fire Service. The band plays at Nassau County parades, firefighters funerals, and special occasions, but they are likely most proud of their appearance at the Presidential Inaugural Parade, and most recently, a trip to play in Belgium.
Married to his sweetheart Patty the couple have two boys Bobby III and Patrick, both of whom have been members of our Fire Department before their careers demanded their relocation.
But now, in 2018, Hughes has been awarded Chairman of the 6th Battalion. A proud moment for members of the East Meadow Fire Department. An organization no stranger to success.
For as long as can be remembered, the 6th Battalion of the Nassau County Fire Service has been the considered the leaders in our volunteer fire service. It consists of Bellmore, East Meadow, Levittown, Massapequa, Merrick, North Bellmore, North Massapequa, North Merrick, Seaford and Wantagh.
Our behalf of the Chiefs, officers, and members of the East Meadow Fire Department we congratulate Ex Chief Robert Hughes for yet another outstanding accomplishment.
Jennifer Corr contributed to this story.
John J. O'Brien is an active Ex Chief of the East Meadow Fire Department. He is the District Supervisor of the Jericho Fire District and has over 30 years of Dispatch and Supervisory experience.