BY LYNN EDMONDS
A Whitestone fire station celebrated its 100th anniversary on Thursday, bringing in Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, Chief of Department James Leonard, and Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside), as well as bagpipers and drummers, to commemorate the occasion.
The FDNY as a whole, which is the largest fire department in the country, celebrated its 150th anniversary this year.
Members of Engine Company 295 and Ladder Company 144, past and present, as well as their families and friends, spilled out of the clean-swept fire station and onto the sidewalk as they listened to the commemorative addresses.
While celebrating the occasion, the officers took time to remember three members of Ladder 144 that lost their lives in service to the city.
Among them, Firefighter Walter Voight, who recently passed away due to World Trade Center related illness.
Firefighters Frederick Zeigler and William Austin were killed in 1947 while responding to a boat fire in the East River.
But the event, which culminated in the dramatic unveiling of a special plaque, also emphasized the joy and satisfaction involved in the work.
Captain of Engine 295 Ken Ruggerio reflected on what drove him to the profession.
“I remember being a kid and seeing fire trucks come down the block, and everybody would stop and we would look at the fire trucks. And to me that was like, ‘wow, that’s a pretty cool job, I think I want to do that when I grow up,’” he said. “If there was a firefighter there, they could take care of any problem that might arise. They could do it.”
“Nothing has changed. It’s that commitment, that dedication, that bravery, that draws one to want to be a firefighter,” he added.
Reach Lynn Edmonds at (718) 357-7400 x127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Ellinoamerikana