With candlelights, a somber roll call and bagpipes providing a mournful and familiar score, the firefighters of North Massapequa on Sunday paid tribute to the deaths of nearly 150 department members since its founding in 1934.
The memorial service is an annual department tradition usually observed around Memorial Day. This year, the more than 75 volunteer department firefighters, joined by community members, also honored victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with North Massapequa roots.
The fire department typically hosts separate ceremonies but decided to combine them for the first time this year, Chief Fred Ferrara said.
“We’re remembering our members that have passed and reflecting on the victims of 9/11 at the same time,” Ferrara said.
The fire department has 146 members who died during their active service — but not in the line of duty — since its inception.
Firefighters said about a half-dozen members of the North Massapequa community died after al Qaida terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger jets 16-years ago today.
Newsday’s database of 9/11 victims lists Peter J. Ganci Jr., Lester V. Marino, Christopher P. Sullivan and Andrew Steven Zucker as hailing from North Massapequa.
The fire department did not lose any members in the attacks but had firefighters respond to Ground Zero in the hours afterward and the days that followed, Ferrara said.
On Sunday night, more than 75 firefighters and a handful of others attended the candlelight ceremony, reading the deceased’s names and placing wreaths at the firehouse’s outdoor memorial. Each firefighter saluted the memorial and honorary plaques following the 45-minute ceremony.
“It’s very important that we do this every year,” Ferrara said.
The ceremony was hosted by the North Massapequa Fire Department, as well as the Exempt and Benevolent Association of North Massapequa, Inc.
Chad Hannon, a bagpiper in the FDNY EMS band and a lieutenant in the North Massapequa Fire Department, said when he plays “Amazing Grace” and other tunes at memorial services, it shows the tributes being paid to others.
“It lets the world know that the people we’re tributing, they’ve fought their battle,” he said. “It sends them off the way they deserve.”