Hook & Ladder Co #1
Hook & Ladder Company # 1, originally first known as Company # 1, is documented as the first company formed by the East Meadow Fire Department when it was established on April 3, 1930.
A total of thirty-six firefighters were named, and it was noted that 22 were members of the East Meadow Volunteer Firemen’s Benevolent Association organized in 1922.
Unfortunately, some of the records of the original Company # 1 were inadvertently discarded or lost, however, we have old Department records that have enabled us to develop the following data.
Company # 1’s first home was the firehouse built by the East Meadow Volunteer Firemen’s Association located on Maple Avenue. This is the current site of today’s East Meadow Volunteer & Exempt Firemen’s Benevolent Association.
Company 1’s first piece of fire apparatus was a second hand 1917 Mack ladder truck with chemical tanks, purchased from the Franklin Square Fire Department.
The first Chief of the East Meadow Fire Department would be Edward Alsheimer who would serve from 1930 to 1931.
On March 5, 1931, the men of Company # 1 were assigned a new 1931 GMC pumper and at some point, the Company was renamed Engine & Hose Co # 1.
On January 10, 1936, the GMC pumper was moved into the Company # 2 firehouse located at the intersection of Newbridge Avenue (Known today as East Meadow Avenue) and Park Avenue, as both companies would now function from this location.
In 1948, a new firehouse was erected on Newbridge off Front Street, and was designated as Fire Headquarters. Company # 1 relocated to this new firehouse upon the completion of the building in 1949.
In 1950, when the new Quad Ladder Truck was assigned to our company, it became Ladder Company # 1, and in 1956, the company was renamed to Hook & Ladder Company # 1.
Within this timeframe, Fire Headquarters was expanded from 3 bays to 5 bays as our members accepted the delivery of a new 1958 American LaFrance midship ladder truck boasting a 75-foot aerial ladder. The most memorable thoughts of this truck were in the ride to the alarm as members would ride the side, and hold on, all while gearing up along the way.
In 1965, the members of Hook & Ladder Company # 1 took proud ownership of a 1965 Mack Floodlight truck boasting an 85kw generator and electrical reels to power buildings and equipment, where needed. Its true character came in the form of its massive appearance with its tractor like chassis, massive display of lights, and incredibly high cab requiring three steps of climbing. This truck would remain an integral part of our fleet for nearly 30 years, and although a second due response unit for our company, it became the true workhorse of the department lighting up huge areas, and powering equipment at every major fire.
The 1970’s proved to be an era of the action for our members. Of the most memorable would be a Signal 10 at the brand new Nassau County Medical Center Dynamic Care Building where workman on the roof accidentally ignited a spectacular fire at the building yet to be opened. On arrival East Meadow volunteers were met with heavy fire conditions with fire communicating into several floors before being extinguished. This fire would make the cover of the June 4, 1970 Newsday.
As the years passed, the fire calls increased, as did the amount of serious fires. In these years, while the two ladder companies responded to major fires within their own side of town, the men of Hook & Ladder Company # 1 would respond to all northside calls as well, for the additional equipment and lighting of Floodlight 616 as well as manpower support.
The mid 1970s became known in our history as a time with many new members who quickly became seasoned firefighters with the amount of action in town. The most memorable fire occurred on July 17, 1977, in which all stations battled a fully involved vacant 2 story marine barracks on Merrick Avenue just South of Hempstead Turnpike under the direction of Chief Williamson E. Henderson (E-2). Upon the arrival of Ladder 617, the radiant heat was so intense damage to the truck required its repositioning. Weary firefighters battled this blaze all day in 90 plus degree heat.
In 1976, the members of H & L Co # 1 bid farewell to their 1956 American LaFrance ladder truck and accepted the newest piece of equipment in our 1976 Oshkosh /Pierce ladder truck. This truck was nearly a one of a kind with its bright lime yellow color, low profile body, and 100-foot rear mounted LTI aerial ladder. This ladder truck would provide outstanding service to our community with few major breakdowns for 26 years before being retired in 2002.
The 1980’s would continue where the seventies left off with much action culminating with the year of 1987, in which East Meadow Firefighters responded to a record 24 working fires (Signal 10s).
The 1990’s would prove to become a decade of less true fire emergencies, yet more calls. This partly due to the fact that more and more homeowners would now be installing fire alarm systems that require a Fire Department response, as well as the increase in carbon monoxide awareness after a few tragedies across our country prompted homeowners to arm themselves with alarms. The men and woman of the East Meadow Fire Department would now take on new roles to ensure these tragedies were averted.
In the mid 1990’s, the members of Ladder 1, Engine 1, and Rescue 5, would combine their talents to form a Heavy Rescue Squad to support our Department’s growing needs.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, the men of Ladder Co # 1, as well as our entire Department, would become part of the largest fire and rescue response in our Nation’s history as two planes were hijacked, and in a cowardly act, flown into our World Trade Center buildings 1 and 2 in New York City.
In November of 2002, the members of Hook & Ladder Company # 1, as well as Engine Company # 1, would be relocated to their new state of the art firehouse located at 340 East Meadow Avenue.
A short time thereafter, our members would bid farewell to our 1976 Oshkosh /Pierce ladder truck, and accept delivery of our new 2002 Pierce midship ladder truck boasting a 95 foot aerial ladder with bucket, as well as an eight man enclosed cab.
In April of 2004 Ex Captain John J. O’Brien would make a successful bid for the position of 3rd Assistant Chief. Over the next four years he would climb to the top leading our Department in 2007.
In April 2006 Ex Chief Keith J. Hoffman would make a run for the position of 3rd Assistant Chief and win the election. After 3 years as an Assistant Chief, in April of 2009 Keith became the first Ladder 1 Chief, and only the 3rd Chief in our Department’s rich history to ever return to the Chief’s Office after completing a prior 4-year term of office.
In April of 2013, Ex Captain John McGee would make a successful bid winning his election for 3rd Assistant Chief. Chief McGee would move up these highest of department ranks becoming Chief of Department in 2017.
On April 4, 2020 our company reached its 90th year milestone in protecting our community. No doubt a proud year for our members of the Blue and Gold.
On April 9, 2020, amid a global health crisis created from the Covid-19 Pandemic, James Walsh of our own Hook & Ladder Co 1 was elected and swiftly swore in as East Meadow’s 70th Chief of Department. Although there could be little fanfare, a group of his family and closest friends socially distanced apart, cheered outside the firehouse.
For months prior, Chief Walsh had worked diligently with his fellow Chiefs to protect our community with many residents becoming ill, while maintaining the safety and health of our organization.
Now our newest Chief of Department, now with a continuation of this unprecedented challenge before him.
On April 19, of 2020, the members of Hook & Ladder Company # 1 accepted delivery of their new Pierce Velocity heavy rescue truck. The fruits of nearly 2 years of research and development, this new rig boasts the latest technology in battery operated extrication equipment, air lift bags, jacks, stabilization system, more than 320,000 Lumens of lighting, hydraulic, pneumatic, and air systems designs to support nearly any type of rescue emergency. The rig is equally set up for a fire with a full complement of ladders and firefighting equipment that can mimic a 3rd ladder company on scene if needed. Adored with the colors of East Meadow having a blue and gold reflective stripe. A fitting tribute for the first fire company in our community.
In April of 2021, outgoing Chief James Walsh would be elected once again to the position of 3rd Asst Chief.
Today, Hook & Ladder Company #1 is a proud group of members thriving to be their best in the finest tradition of our company and the volunteer fire service, responding day and night during these unsafe times of the Covid-19 Pandemic.