Department History


Motorized equipment for firemen was unheard of when the Garden City Park Fire Department was organized in March of 1911 with a complement of 23 men and officers. The equipment consisted of a horse drawn combination hook and ladder and bucket brigade.

The district was originally covered by New Hyde Park Fire District until the latter established its eastern boundary at Denton Avenue, shutting out Garden City Park. In 1917, the horses were replaced by a secondhand truck which pulled the same piece of apparatus until 1925. The company then purchased a secondhand pumper from Farmingdale which remained in service until 1927.

Garden City Park was growing so a second company was formed in 1927 and headquarters moved to Jericho Turnpike. George Malvese was elected the first chief in 1927. Prior to that year the fire companies were under the direction of a foreman, Peter Krumhoz Sr. As the population continued to grow at a steady pace, it was found necessary to form a third company to service the area north of Hillside Avenue. A firehouse was set up on Denton Avenue, north of Hillside Avenue in 1938. A fourth company was added in 1943 and an Emergency Relief Squad in 1950.

In 1961, the department consisted of 146 men and officers, equipped with the most modern firefighting apparatus including a 75-foot aerial ladder truck. The Garden City Park vamps provided fire protection for upwards of 5,000 families in one of the largest fire districts in Nassau County, and its district was bound on the north by I.U. Willets Road, south by Maple Drive to Denton Avenue, then south along Denton Avenue to the LIRR tracks. From that point the line extended east to Herricks Road, north to Hillside Avenue, east to Foch Boulevard and north again to Old Motor Parkway.

An event that saddened the department was the accidental crash of an Army B-25 medium bomber in a Denton Avenue sandpit on the morning of Jan. 1, 1942, shortly after Pearl Harbor. The department responded to an alarm but there was little it could do beyond preventing flames from spreading to nearby homes. Five of the fliers aboard the plan perished when the pilot deliberately head the plan for the sandpit to avoid hitting the homes. A memorial service for the dead fliers was held in Notre Dame Catholic Church, New Hyde Park. A plaque erected to their memory still stands at New Hyde Park Road and Oak Drive, half-a-mile from the sandpit site.

In all of the department's 100 year history, no blaze was more spectacular than the fire that completely destroyed a one-and-a-half story brick and wood warehouse at 2145 Jericho Turnpike on New Year's Eve in 1958. The building, occupied by the Globe Nassau Supply Co., was stocked with lumber, tar and roofing supplies. Damage was estimated at $500,000. The vamps battled in subfreezing weather for more than five hours to bring the flames under control. Several firemen suffered smoke poisoning and minor injuries. At one point flames shooting 65 feet in the air were visible five miles away.

At that time, a major face-lifting job gave a brilliant "new look" to the Jericho Turnpike headquarters. The once drab meeting room on the second floor shined with new sparkle and luster. Renovation and alterations also were done to other parts of the building. "There is nothing like a renovation job to improve the men's morale," commented chief Kenneth Rodden.

(as published in the Long island Daily Press, Vol. 1 No. 4, 1959)