The year 2019 marked the 40th anniversary of the formation of the Lynbrook Junior Fire Department, part of the Lynbrook Fire Department.
For these past four decades, young men and women, residents from 12 to 17 years of age, have gone on to become firefighters, officers and chiefs in the village’s volunteer Fire Department.
But it is not the first time that the LFD has had juniors. Although the present 40-year program is a department-run program, nearly 100 years ago, in the 1920s, the juniors were part of the individual fire companies. They were referred to as “juniors” while others called them their “mascots.”
In the early ‘20s, the junior membership was only open to the children and other family members of firefighters from that particular company, and age didn’t matter. Some were as young as 4 and 5. They all wore uniforms. Available photos and newspaper articles reflect that three Lynbrook fire companies, Rescue Hook, Ladder and Bucket Company 1, Hose Company 1, and Tally-Ho Engine Company 3, had juniors. And, even back then they were called, “fire eaters of tomorrow.” The individual companies lasted at least into the 1930s.
In 1943, after many of Lynbrook’s firefighters were off fighting overseas in World War II, the department sought the help of Lynbrook High School students to fill the shortage of manpower. At that point, they were called fire aids. Most were sophomores and juniors, and they ran out of school when the fire horns went off. They rode Lynbrook’s rigs and occasionally were inside helping to fight the fire. Each of Lynbrook’s four engine companies and Rescue Hook and Ladder had fire aids. The fire aids program ended in 1946 after the war ended and the firefighters returned from home.
In July 1979, 33 years later, a new department-run junior program, the Lynbrook Junior Fire Department, was formed after the department identified a serious problem in filling the ranks of its volunteers.
At the time, Lynbrook’s program was believed to be one of the first department-run junior programs in Nassau County. Explorer Scout Posts ran most junior programs at the time. Lynbrook firefighters had hoped that an official Junior Department, that’s part of the regular department, would be better run, controlled and only deal with firematic training.
The program was so successful and recognized that the firefighter advisors helped neighboring departments start their own juniors. The success of the Lynbrook program was recognized by CNBC, which filmed a TV special on it in 1992.
On one occasion about 12 years ago, the chief and his three assistants were juniors together and most of our present-day officers and chiefs had all come through the program, including the department’s present chief, Nick Pearsall.
Lynbrook juniors were Nassau County’s best in the 2018 parade season, which marked the sixth time in recent years that they have won that award and honor. In the past five years alone, the juniors have won the local battalion parade four times.
Today, Lynbrook has 54 juniors.
From the past to the present, the juniors — in one form or another — have been part of the Lynbrook Fire Department and seek to continue to be the “fire eaters of tomorrow.” They have already shown how they have helped this department for nearly 100 years.
Grogan is a 51-year member of Tally-Ho Engine 3 of the Lynbrook Fire Department. He is a former captain and honorary chief. Grogan has been the department’s public information officer and writer for the past 40 years. He co-founded the Lynbrook Junior Fire Department, the Nassau County Firefighters Emerald Society and is a vice-chairman of Nassau County Firefighters Operation Wounded Warrior. He is a Vietnam-era veteran who served five years with U.S. Army Intelligence, a retired federal agent and a former Lynbrook trustee.