Mayor Tweedy swears in new chief, assistant chiefs
At the Floral Park Board of Trustees meeting held on Tuesday, April 17, the Floral Park Fire Department underwent a changing of the guards. Upon former Chief of Department John Kelleher’s resignation speech, Mayor Thomas Tweedy swore in Chief of Department Vincent Modica, 1st Assistant Chief Louis D’Amore, 2nd Assistant Chief Daniel Bennett, 3rd Assistant Chief Brian Naughton and 4th Assistant Chief John Florio.
In his final duty as chief, Kelleher delivered the year-end department report to the board and a standing-room-only audience. The five companies that comprise the Floral Park Fire Department – Reliance Engine, Active Engine, Hook & Ladder, Rescue and Alert Engine – boast a combined 163 members, 150 of whom are firefighters and 13 who are EMS staff. The department responded to more than 1,200 calls this past year, Kelleher said, adding that 338 were fire calls and 913 were rescues. Among the fire calls, two were working fires. Coincidentally, both were located on Tulip Avenue: one struck a commercial building, while the other was a house fire. Thankfully, there was no loss of life at either incident, Kelleher added.
Keeping the department in compliance requires thousands of hours of volunteer training, which ranges from basic EMT training to HAZMAT training. Kelleher reported that 121 members logged 2,046 hours of courses this past year. In addition to formal training, members participated in department and company drills, which totaled more than 3,000 man-hours.
When not training or responding to calls, the FPFD participates in everything from parades to recreational sporting events. Indeed, the department marched in four parades last year, taking home the “best band” trophy in the Stewart Manor Fourth of July parade last summer. Kelleher joked about the fire department’s loss to the Floral Park Police Department in a “lighthearted” softball game, and on a more serious note, mentioned the department’s annual Super Bowl Sunday football game this year, which marked the 25th anniversary of the Floral Park bowling alley explosion.
Most recently, the fire department hosted a blood drive on Friday, April 6, during which 356 pints were collected.
Mayor Tweedy noted not only the vast hours the volunteers give to the village but also the diversity of activities and training associated with the department. Addressing Kelleher, he said, “[You have led] the greatest group of volunteers that this village has ever seen. … We would not exist as a village without the voluntary work you do every day.”
In her inaugural year as fire commissioner, Trustee Mary-Grace Tomecki , a lifelong Floral Park resident, said she has always “admired and respected” village volunteers, but has “developed a first-hand appreciation for the straightforward, down-to-earth leadership style of Chief Kelleher.” Addressing Kelleher, she said, “It has been an absolute pleasure to serve as fire commissioner while you managed the department with a steady, informed hand, openness of vision, and a delightful sense of humor.”
Summing up his report, Kelleher offered thanks to neighboring fire departments Stewart Manor and Elmont, Floral Park village officials and all of the officers and members of the fire department. Before signing off, he thanked his wife, Nancy, for holding the ball while he was called away, then turned to his two young sons and quipped that they will have “No more chief’s car to ride around in!” As if on cue, his younger son called out, “Oh, man!” As the audience roared with laughter, Kelleher bid his final farewell to his duties as chief of the department.