The Nassau County Junior Firefighters Association unveiled a monument Sunday at Eisenhower Park to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the organization that prepares teenagers to battle blazes.
An American flag, strung between the ladders of two fire engines, hung 100 feet over the heads of junior firefighters from the association’s 41 departments at the ceremony on Park Boulevard, the site of the new monument in East Meadow.
“We’re honoring our junior firefighters’ commitment to being the next generation of volunteer firefighters in our great county, and to continue that heroic tradition that we are so proud of,” Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said at the event.
The association, which prepares teenagers to become firefighters and provides them with community service opportunities, was started in 2006 and has grown to include hundreds of kids — ages 12 to 17 — from all 41 of Nassau County’s junior departments.
The ceremony began with the presentation of colors, an opening prayer led by deacon Ted Kolakowski and addresses by several local politicians, including Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Norma L. Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) and State Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove).
Nassau County Junior Firefighters Association president Richard Field, 18, of Valley Stream, and Mangano then tore away blue tarp wrapped around the eight-foot monument that bears the Nassau County Junior Firefighters emblem and the names of the junior firefighter departments.
Also part of the monument are two pint-size stone firefighters that face the structure.
The monument cost more than $100,000 and took about a year to construct, according to Allen Sedaka, owner of Great Neck-based Durite USA. It was paid for by donations from local companies, organizations and area fire departments.
“I’m very proud of what this organization has become and what we’ve built today,” said the association’s chairman, Jerry Presta, one of its founders.
“This monument is a testament to all the association’s accomplishments in bringing all the junior firefighters together as one,” said Field, who will be graduating to join the Valley Stream fire department in the coming months.