Timothy G. Carroll
Advance, Hook, Ladder and Engine Company #1 History
More than a century ago, when Bellmore was still a small hamlet, a handful of its civic-minded citizens determined that it was time their town had the benefits of organized fire protection. So, on June 21, 1897, a meeting was called to discuss the issue. The minutes of that brief meeting recorded that the fire company was to be called the “Advance Hook, Ladder & Bucket Company of Bellmore.”
Only at their second meeting, they began to live up to the term “advance” by striking the word “bucket” from their name. By August of that year, more than $150 had been donated by friends of the new organization that resulted in the purchase of a used fire truck from the Bay Ridge Volunteers. The firemen paraded through the village of Bellmore to proudly display their new truck.
In December of 1897, The Advance Hook & Ladder Company was incorporated by New York State. The first “headquarters” was constructed at the corner of Bedford and Pettit Avenues. In 1903, a belfry was added to the structure in which was placed a ship’s bell from the S.S. Magenta. Used as a signal to notify the volunteers of fire calls, the bell was later moved to a new fire station on Grand Avenue and event saw service during World War Two as an auxiliary alarm. Today, it graces the memorial opposite the present Fire Headquarters and appears as the official logo of the Bellmore Fire Department.
During their first 100 years of service to the community, the firefighters of Advance Company regularly risked their lives fighting fires, assisted in countless rescues, and have selflessly given of their time and effort in many other ways to help their fellow Bellmorites. Among the largest and most destructive fires they fought occurred on January 12, 1922 which threatened the entire business district. Again in 1946, another such blaze badly damaged stores on both sides of Bellmore Avenue.
In the years following the war, Bellmore saw a period of major growth. Advance Company also continued to grow, seeing new membership added to the rolls and new fire apparatus purchased. The company name also changed to “Advance Hook, Ladder & Engine Company #1.” As the growth of Bellmore and the company continued, so did the ravages of fire. Firefighters fought many battles, including flames that destroyed the landmark India House Restaurant, Sensmeyer’s Ice Cream Parlor, Meadowbrook Furniture, Meadowbrook Lumber Yard and Freddie’s Delicatessen to name a few.
The second century of service by the members of Advance Company sadly resulted in the line of duty deaths of three members. Rescue Squad Lt. Al Sippel died after collapsing at the scene of an auto accident while aiding victims. Lt. Kevin Prior and Firefighter/Training Officer Adam Rand both made the ultimate sacrifice saving thousands of people at the scene of the terrorist attack at the World Trade Center.
More than a century ago, a pledge by company member’s predecessors was inscribed on the first piece of fire apparatus. It reflected the character, commitment and traditions which became the pillars that have sustained the Bellmore Fire Department to this day. Its eight words sum up the entire history of Advance Hook, Ladder & Engine Company #1: WHERE DUTY CALLS, YOU WILL SURELY FIND US.
The history of Advance Hook, Ladder & Engine Company #1 is condensed from the company’s 100th Anniversary program, courtesy of ex-captain and chaplain, Dennis Rich.