Lindenhurst firefighter Robert Cozzetto stood proudly inside the foyer of the department's main firehouse after Saturday's dedication ceremony.
"To be able to stand here in a building people said would never happen, it feels good," said Cozzetto, a former department captain.
The $5.9 million firehouse was years in the making and replaced a crumbling nearly 100-year-old building.
Cozzetto, fire council building chairman, showed off the new digs, emphasizing the elegant and modern tribute to those who lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Dozens of residents, firefighters and supporters of the Lindenhurst Fire Department rallied on South Wellwood Avenue on Saturday after a brief parade to trumpet the new firehouse's opening, about a year and nine months after workers broke ground. After speeches, thank yous and some history lessons about the Lindenhurst Fire Department, residents toured the new building, which department Chief Mike DeGregorio said belonged to the taxpayers.
As Lauren Mari, 2, played on an antique fire truck parked in the spacious new building, which is almost twice the size of the original structure, Laina Brody of Lindenhurst called the firehouse "absolutely beautiful."
Brody, whose husband is a first lieutenant in the 39th Street firehouse, said the main firehouse desperately needed a makeover. The old one was so outdated, the department's trucks had to be customized just to fit through its doors. And an architect determined in 2012 that the steel girders supporting the building were almost completely eroded.
"They needed it, because they work so hard to protect the community," Brody said. "They're just wonderful people. Our firemen -- they go in when we run out, and that really says it all."
Residents with no connection to the department also rallied around the new firehouse.
Vincent Fiore, who lives nearby and attended the ceremony with his wife and two kids, said they're happy to see the building completed.
"I think it's a great asset to the community," Fiore said. "I think over the last few years people saw more and more the deterioration of the old firehouse and just the need. When you compare it to some of the other firehouses in Suffolk County, it really needed an upgrade and the size of it needed to expand."