In the 100-plus year history of the , there have only been two members who made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in the line of duty.
Capt. Richard Provost succumbed to injuries during a fire and subsequent explosion on April 30, 1977 while Chief Thomas Regan also succumbed to injuries sustained during an emergency alarm on Feb. 17, 2012.
“I have been told by many senior members of our department that he was a gentleman, a family man, a leader and a dedicated firefighter,” current Chief William Rudnick said of Provost, whom he did not personally know, during a Memorial Day ceremony on May 27 at the Garden City Park Fire House.
Chief Regan however,was a personal friend of Rudnick who “was always willing to help a nd teach a brother firefighter. Tom was always at the firehouse, whether it was responding to a call, spending time in the recreation room with his wife Elsie or working out in the fire house gym.”
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Family members of Provost and Regan were escorted by Captains Michael Magas and John Janus, respectively, in placing wreaths in front of the new memorials which they helped to unveil.
A total of 47 other members have died as active members of the department and whose names are also affixed to plaques on the memorial. Firefighter Martin Cass rung a bell after each one of the names were read aloud by ex-Chief Robert Magas.
“You and your families and those who preceded you have made this town what it is today,” North Hempstead Councilman Angelo Ferrara said. “The sacrifices you make and continue to make will continue that strong relationship with the rest of the community and the government to continue to make this the best place and keep it the best place in America to live.”
Adding to the emotional underpinning of the day was that May 28 is the 12th anniversary of Regan’s death and assistant Chief Robert Mirabile announced that a fellow firefighter, Kevin Kaden, had just passed away that morning.
”As we recall the names of those members of the Garden City Park Fire Department that have departed from our midst at this memorial service, we also remember their lives and their dedicated service to the community. We are grateful for their untiring dedication to the preservation of both life and property and we rejoice in knowing them as colleagues and persons and as friends.” Rev. Joseph J. D’Angelo said in blessing the memorial.
“For decades people are going to pass by here and see the names and their legacy will go on,” North Hempstead Councilwoman Lee Seeman said.
“We pray the cherished memories that well up in our hearts now may be a source of inspiration to us, that we may serve in our time as well as they served in their days,” Garden City Park Fire Department Chaplain Robert Schroeter said. “As we go from this dedication and from this celebration back to our homes, we pray we may give to our communities the same high devotion to duty, the same contributions for ourselves to the welfare of life that they gave in their day, that we may build in this time a heritage worthy to be handed to those generations yet to come.”
Firefighters from a number of departments including Floral Park, , Bellerose and the Garden City Park Juniors were in attendance.
“It’s so wonderful together together as a community, to recognize and remember, to always remember and to celebrate the service and yes the ultimate sacrifice that these two heroes that we remember today gave for the betterment of our community,” Leslie Gross said. “We are a strong community and this is truly what we can call service above self.”
Said Mirabile: “the best way we can memorialize our heroes is to celebrate their lives, please enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend in honor of them.”