The Merrick Fire Department’s equipment just got a major upgrade on Saturday, July 10.
At Merrick Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, located on Oakwood Avenue, department members dedicated two new trucks manufactured by Seagrave: one 95-foot lift and one 100-foot “straight stick” ladder truck. The former can be used by many firefighters at a time to gain access to roof fires and other access points, while the latter will be used for house fires, motor vehicle accidents, hazardous material situations and water rescues.
The event on Saturday was a large celebration, with servicemembers past and present gathering along with family and friends. Dozens were in attendance, facing the two massive trucks that flanked the sides of the building’s driveway.
“It’s a proud moment for our members,” said Matthew Neary, captain of Merrick Truck Company No. 1.
Neary answered the often-asked question as to why the Merrick fire trucks are white instead of red. “The answer is 128 years old,” he said. The company’s first hand-drawn ladder wagon was built in 1893, when white paint was used as a cost-saving measure due to its lack of pigment. That wagon is on display at the Nassau County Fire Museum in Uniondale.
The Native American silhouette on the side also pays homage to the Merokee tribe who flourished in local lands in the 1600s.
“The new trucks are a tangible representation of our new chapter,” Neary said. “Over the last several years, we’ve increased our membership considerably. . . Their dedicated service to their community runs deep.”
Neary’s father, Matthew G. Neary, served as captain of the department when their 1996 ladder truck was dedicated, which is now being replaced.
“I feel very humble and proud to be captain of the company as we dedicate 6411,” Neary said.
“To all the men and women in this department — thank you for everything you do,” said Don Clavin, supervisor of the Town of Hempstead, which funds and provides the department’s equipment. “We cannot thank you enough.”
The title of hero “should be reserved for the very few,” said Councilman Chris Carini, “people like the men and women who are here today that place themselves in harm’s way to benefit strangers.”
“The fact that at a moment’s notice you’re willing to get up from your dining room tables; you get out of bed in the middle of the night; willing to leave your job during the day,” said Nassau County Legislator Steve Rhoads, “that is such a tremendous sacrifice.”
The Rev. Frank Caldwell and the Rev. Zachary Callahan of Curé of Ars in Merrick led a prayer before being inducted as honorary members into the Merrick Fire Department.
“We remember the sacrifice that was made with our previous trucks and thank each member that has stepped onto the rig to serve the community we live in,” Neary said.