By Sadef Ali Kully
As the entire city celebrates the 150th anniversary of the FDNY, firefighters, friends and family of Engine Company 294 and Ladder Company 143 marked the firehouse’s 100th anniversary in Richmond Hill last week.
Engine Company 294 and Ladder Company 143 opened in 1915 as part of the Fire Department of New York’s expansion to all five boroughs. Richmond Hill is the primary response area of the firehouse, which is located on Jamaica Avenue near 101st Street.
The firehouse was almost closed down twice due to budget cuts during the administration of Mayor David Dinkins in the ’90s, but residents and community activists fought the city to keep it open.
“The people who live in this community care for our department deeply and their admiration drives us all to be better every single day—proud that this house continues to make good on the FDNY’s promise a century ago to keep this neighborhood safe,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro.
Throughout the century of service, firefighters from Engine Company 294 and Ladder Company 143 have been recognized for individual acts of valor. The first medal awarded was in 1922 when Firefighters Mark Janesky from Engine 294 and Arthur Shaw from Ladder 143 each rescued people trapped in a fire on Atlantic Avenue.
Capts. James Raymond of Engine Company 294 and William McCarthy of Ladder Company 143 commended the current members for their service and dedication, along with their ongoing efforts to celebrate the history of the firehouse.
“Our traditions must be carried on to all those that come after us,” McCarthy said.
At the ceremony, a plaque was unveiled with the names of two firefighters from Engine Company 294 who died in the line of duty.
While researching the history of the firehouse for the centennial ceremony, the FDNY members discovered that there was no plaque for Firefighter Arnold Hafner, who died in 1955, and Firefighter Robert Denney, who died in 1960.
The names were added to join plaques for Lts. Stanley Skinner, Joseph Beetle and Peter Canelli of Ladder 143, who died in the line of duty.
“We remember their names always on the walls of this house,” said Chief of Department James Leonard. “It’s important to remember them today especially—because their memory inspires us.”
Today the Fire Department protects more than 8 million New Yorkers in an area of 320 square miles and consists of more than 11,400 fire officers and firefighters, including 2,800 emergency medical technicians, paramedics and supervisors as well as 1,200 civilian employees.