The 121st annual Inspection and Installation Dinner of the Wantagh Fire Department was held on Saturday, Feb. 29, at the Crest Hollow Country Club. The evening was a celebration of the accomplishments of the Department and recognition of the hard work that the members do to protect residents of their community.
It includes the administration of the oath of office to the officers, assistant chiefs and chief of department as well as the recognition of department members for various acts and length of service.
Kenneth S. Kelly was installed as chief of department for 2020, along with his assistant chiefs: First Assistant Chief Thomas P. Bloomfield, Second Assistant Leonard J. Mathewson and newly elected Third Assistant, William L. Stevens.
These men, along with the captains, lieutenants and administrative officers, provide the leadership to approximately 250 dedicated volunteers who serve the residents of the Wantagh Fire District.
The department responded to 2,511 calls for assistance in 2019. In addition, members attended countless hours of training, stood-by in their firehouses in cases of extreme weather and educated students and residents of the community in Fire Prevention.
In addition, the Wantagh FD is a lead agency in planning for an annual Jones Beach Air Show and Fourth of July Fireworks Display.
The highlight of the evening came when Chief Kelly was sworn in as Chief of Department after serving for six years as assistant chief. Chief Kelly, surrounded by his family, was sworn into office by ex-Chief/Commissioner William K. Field IV.
Chief Kelly thanked his wife and family for their support and then had his chief of department badge pinned on his chest by his father, Kenneth Kelly Sr., who is a former member of the Department.
Chief Kelly thanked his father for “teaching him how to be a leader.” He pledged to do everything in his power to “keep the membership safe” and ensure that “we continue to get the best equipment and training available.”
Ex-Chief Joseph C. Gross III was recognized for his dedicated leadership for the past eight years as an assistant chief and chief of department. During his address, Chief Gross stated that he was “extremely thankful and proud that at the end of the day, everyone returned home safe” from their duty.
Ex-Captains Al Rubinson and Al True were posthumously recognized for their 50 years of service to the Wantagh Fire Department.
Service Awards were presented to 44 members for serving the residents of the Wantagh Fire District for anywhere from five-to-50 years.
In addition, the following members who received recognition at the Department’s Annual Award Ceremony in November were recognized: Ex-Captains Bill VanLeer and Christopher Gross (Chief’s Award), and Ex-Captains John Licata and Robert MacKay (Firefighter and EMS provider of the Year).