East Meadow

E.M.F.D. Ladies Auxiliary Reaches 100 Year Milestone

Earliest documentation of the history of the East Meadow Fire Department shows that in 1924 a group of men formed an association that enabled neighbors to accept a call to duty in protecting our town in the event of a fire.

Around that time in 1924, a group of women formed our Ladies Auxiliary. Their purpose was to support the men who volunteered to fight fires in our community.

But it wouldn’t be until April 3, 1930 that the East Meadow Fire Department would officially be formed with 36 men attending the first meeting of what would be called “Company 1”.

Suffice it to say, records tell us that the Ladies Auxiliary was organized in the true sense of the word 6 years earlier than our volunteer fire department.

As the decades passed, these women would respond to the scene of a major fires bringing hot coffee and donuts, or cold drinks to rejuvenate our exhausted firefighters. Back in the day, this response was called a “Coffee Detail”.

They became a tradition within a tradition as the group grew stronger amassing firefighter wives and other family members of a fire department rapidly increasing in membership.

To this day it is a very comforting sight for firefighters to exit a fire, and see these ladies on the sidelines with a cold Gatorade, water, and other refreshments.

Although arguably, the coffee detail most important function of the Ladies Auxiliary, they have been so much more involved in our fire department during their 100 year history.

As fire department parades and racing tournaments became popular throughout New York State from the 1940’s on, the men of the East Meadow Fire Department would be accompanied by the Ladies Auxiliary marching closely behind, looking sharp, wearing their military style red, white and blue dress uniforms.

As the years passed, organizers would establish marching competitions in these parades where the Ladies, as well as the men, would be judged on appearance, and trophies would be handed out after each parade.

Marching in perfect unison, left to right, in perfect step, with skirt hems precise, the E.M.F.D. Ladies would win trophy after trophy, twice becoming New York State Champions, as well as Nassau County Champions on several occasions.

Being an auxiliary member would become a big part of their lives as the women of our volunteer firefighters found a true purpose in their assistance to our fire service.

But it wasn’t just “Coffee Details” or parades that gave these ladies the same sense of pride as their firefighter husbands or other family members. There was so much to do as the Ladies took on more and more in committee work, from the departments fund drives, to assisting with the many other department committees to maintain our organization.

Today’s ladies, although a much smaller organization than decades passed, remain committed to our volunteer firemen and women, responding to the major fires to ensure our firefighters receive the necessary hydration. Something even the Pandemic could not keep them from the performance of their duty.

So on this night, 15 June 2024, the celebration began. Masterfully orchestrated by Past President Patricia A. Magnus Brown. It would be a night to honor outgoing President Sandra E. Lucchi for her passed term of office, and welcome new President Kelly J. Weeks as the new President. It was a night with many service milestones with speeches and honors paid by Chief of Department James Walsh, Commissioner John J. Priest, Nassau County Legislator Thomas McKevitt, New York State Association of Firefighters Ladies Auxiliary representative Barbara Stone, and Nassau County Firefighters Ladies Auxiliary representative Theresa Occhipinti.

Those receiving milestone awards were President Kelly J. Weeks (15 Years), Jane M. Fahey-McGee (20 Years), Marie Rinckey (20 Years), Teresa L. O’Brien (25 Years), Helen Signorelli (50 Years), and Phyliss Sperr (60 Years). Other awards of perfect attendance were given to Sandra Lucchi, Linda Rohde, Isabel Perez-Sulsona, and Kelly J. Weeks.

Making the evening even more special was the attendance of Past President Carolyn Landrigan Knauer, who joined the Ladies Auxiliary in January of 1963 and has been living her life in Florida.

On behalf of the Chief’s Office, and the men and women of the East Meadow Volunteer Fire Department, we hope you join us in congratulating our Ladies Auxiliary for 100 years of service to our fire department and community.

STORY AND PHOTOS: John J. O’Brien Sr