The celebration was a stunning display of perseverance and pride for the company nicknamed “El’s Angels.”
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro recalled that in the 1970s and 1990s the fire company was closed twice, but the community always rallied around their local fire company and it was eventually reopened.
“You have always endured,” Nigro said. “That is the mark of an outstanding firehouse.”
Nigro said the firehouse was built as part of the FDNY’s expansion throughout the five-boroughs. As the population ballooned, so did the need for expanded fire service. The firehouse was welcomed by a grateful community.
“The people who live in this community care for our department deeply, and their admiration drives us all to be better every single day,” said Nigro, adding that he was “proud that this house continues to make good on the FDNY’s promise a century ago to keep this neighborhood safe.”
Throughout their 100-year history, the equipment and personnel at Engine Company 294 and Ladder Company 143 has changed over the years, but the commitment to service has not.
“One constant that had not changed is the commitment and dedication to duty,” Nigro said. “The core values the house was built on, honor, bravery and service, never waiver.”
Chief of Department James Leonard also praised the service of the members of fire company, who have risked their lives for the people of Richmond Hill and Queens.
“You have been here when people needed you the most,” Leonard said. “We do whatever we need to do to protect life and property in this city.”
Throughout a century of service, firefighters in the house have been recognized many times for individual acts of valor, with the first medals awarded 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.
The centennial ceremony also remembered those who lost their lives in the line of duty protecting the residents of Richmond Hill.
While preparing for the service, it was discovered that there were no memorial plaques for Firefighter Arnold Hafner, who died in 1955, and Firefighter Robert Denney, who died in 1960.
They join on a memorial wall lieutenants Stanley Skinner, Joseph Beetle and Peter Canelli of Ladder 143, all of whom were killed in the line of service.
“We remember their names always on the walls of this house,” said Leonard. “It's important to remember them today especially, because their memory inspires us.”