Highland Fire Department celebrates 125th Anniversary

By Mark Reynolds
Posted 6/5/19

The Highland Hose Company recently held their annual Installation Dinner to honor and thank the members of the company for their service to the community and to celebrate their 125th …

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Highland Fire Department celebrates 125th Anniversary


The Highland Hose Company recently held their annual Installation Dinner to honor and thank the members of the company for their service to the community and to celebrate their 125th Anniversary.

The company was founded in 1894 by the business owners of the town after a fire three years earlier destroyed eight buildings and claimed the life of a seven year old boy. The company has been and remains a 100% volunteer organization. The Department consists of 45 members who operate three engines, a pumper/tanker, a 95 ft tower ladder, a heavy rescue and a 6 wheel UTV. Annually they respond to approximately 450 calls, ranging from cellar pump outs, animal rescues, auto and train accidents, house and brush fires and plane crashes.

Fireman Fred DeMaio led in an opening prayer.

“We are grateful for the community we serve, the great country we live in, grateful to our partners in service that are here tonight, grateful for our families who support us in countless hours when we are away from home and grateful to each member of the Highland Hose Company past, present and future. Heavenly father, we pray that you will bless us and be with us tonight as we celebrate 125 years of service to our community as we close out another safe and successful year and look forward to the days ahead. Bless us O Lord as we fellowship together”

A moment of silence followed for all of the fighters who answered their last call in 2018.

Chief Peter Miller said, “the commitment, passion and the pride that is in the fire department is going to keep us going.”

The Chief had everyone stand as he proposed a toast, “to many, many more years of activity and positive contributions to the community by the Highland Hose Company #1.”

After dinner, Fred DeMaio presented a 45 year pin to Chief Miller, “for dedicated service and commitment to the community. It was May 1973 when this fellow started his journey of allegiance, dedication, detachment, consistency, devotion, faithfulness and steadfastness to the fire service. He spent countless hours responding to calls, probably over 10,000 in his career, countless hours training himself and others, countless hours going to meetings and functions, to maintain and improve the quality of our fire district and hose company.”

DeMaio said Miller has served in a numerous positions in the company, most notably as Chief, “for a long, long time. He continues to teach, encourage us and challenge us to be the best that we can. His hair may be a different color that it was in 1973 but his dedication and commitment are as strong as ever.”

Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson thanked everyone in attendance for their dedication to the community, their commitment to safety and helping their fellow residents in their time of need. He presented Miller with a Certificate of Merit for his long service to the community. Heidi Haynes represented NYS Sen. George Amadore and presented a proclamation to Chief Miller, “for your continued dedication for keeping our community safe.”

Ulster County Legislators Herb Litts, Mary Beth Maio and Heidi Haynes (also a Legislator) presented Miller with a Pride of Ulster County Award that quotes a poem by Robert J. Athans

“So as you look at the firefighter with his rake, hose or ax,

His beet red face or ice covered mustache,

You should know why he goes through that smoky front door,

And is forced to crawl like a baby down on the floor.

He does it to save both lives and property,

All that is precious to you and to me.

So take a good look at this modern warrior who serves his call proud and true,

And know that he would die just to save me and you.”

Ulster County Deputy Director of Emergency Services Everett Erichsen presented Miller with his department’s Service Award.

“It is a token of appreciation of the part you have played to bring the fire service to where it is today. Your efforts have helped us achieve excellence in many areas,” he said.

Miller smiled, saying, “there are two ways to put a fire out, one is by using water and the other is by removing the Chief from the scene.”

On a more serious note, he said, “There is nothing in this fire service that I can do by myself; it’s what we’ve all done,” he said, adding that over the years their fire suppression rate has been brought down from a 9 to a status of class 3.

“I want to make sure that everyone knows and understands that I appreciate everything that everybody does that’s made it rewarding to the point that I’m still here. Thank you,” he said.

James Balint handed out two 10 year service pins to Craig Welch and Michael DePaola. Two others, who were not in attendance, Mike Krusen received a 10 year pin and Frank Canino was given a 20 year pin.

Chief Miller handed out the Firematic Awards for 2018:

Most Active Drill Attendance: 39 Joseph Lyon

Most Active Driver: 161 calls Fred Dunham

Top Responder: 224 calls Fred Dunham

Firefighter of the Year: Jonathan Napolean

Chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners Stephen DiLorenzo commented on the Department.

“Tonight is a very special night for all of us, our 125th anniversary,” he said. “The Chief and his officers have done a tremendous job in training and with that brings very, very few minor injuries.” DiLorenzo thanked his wife and the wives of all the firefighters, “because it seems like every day something comes up that we have to deal with; so we spend a lot of time at the fire house, so thank you very much.”

Marlboro Fire Chief Erick Masten and Milton Fire Chief Steve Kneeter presented Chief Miller with plaques in recognition of Highland’s 125th anniversary.

Chief Miller offered a few closing remarks on this memorable anniversary.

“It sounds incredible when you think about the timeline. It’s interesting how time flies, it was the 45th anniversary of the bridge fire when it was a rail line before the Walkway Over the Hudson. The shocking thing was, I was there and so was Stephen DiLorenzo and a few others in this room. We continue to lay down bricks and build the fire department and we appreciate everyone who came here tonight.”

Fred DeMaio offered a closing prayer.

“Heavenly Father we came here tonight and had some good great refreshments and some great food but mostly we had some great times and talking and just communing with the people we work with, our families, our friends. We thank you for all of the countless blessings, in your name we pray. Amen.”


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