Newly formed Es­sex Vol­un­teer Fire Com­pany hosts tree light­ing

The Avenue News - - FRONT PAGE - By: GIANNA DECARLO gde­carlo@ches­pub.com

To pro­mote com­mu­nity unity, the Es­sex Vol­un­teer Fire Com­pany Inc. Sta­tion #51, which was for­merly the Rock­away Beach Vol­un­teer Fire Com­pany, Hyde Park Vol­un­teer Fire Com­pany, and Mid­dle­bor­ough Vol­un­teer Fire Com­pany, held a tree light­ing and ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony, kick­ing off the hol­i­day sea­son and cel­e­brat­ing the fire com­pany merger at the Rock­away Beach sta­tion.

Kevin Nida, the pres­i­dent of the Rock­away Beach Vol­un­teer Co., ded­i­cated the cer­e­mony to Steve Kirby, a vol­un­teer fire­fighter and life­long Rock­away Beach res­i­dent who passed away sud­denly this sum­mer.

“He was not just an or­di­nary vol­un­teer, he be­came the back­bone to many of us dur­ing his 45 years of ser­vice,” said Nida.

He said that Kirby joined the vol­un­teer com­pany when he was just 16, ded­i­cat­ing decades of his life to serv­ing the com­mu­nity. He also in­spired a fam­ily tra­di­tion, as the two gen­er­a­tions af­ter him chose to be­come a vol­un­teer fire­fighter too.

Nida re­calls the many sto­ries Kirby would tell in the sta­tion, some hu­mor­ous, some seri- ous, and how he would pro­vide ad­vice and his ex­per­tise to the younger mem­bers.

“They’re all en­graved in our heart and echoes in our sta­tion.”

His wife, Deb­bie, and the rest of his fam­ily ac­cepted the 2017 ded­i­ca­tion and flipped the switch to light the tree.

“The life and mem­ory of Steve Kirby never will be for­got­ten in our hearts,” said Nida.

Fol­low­ing the cer­e­mony, the crowd was greeted with a spe­cial visit from Santa Claus, who

ar­rived in style inside a fire truck. Santa took pho­tos with smil­ing chil­dren as the crowd en­joyed re­fresh­ments and Christmas mu­sic.

In past years, the event was held ex­clu­sively by the Rock­away Beach Vol­un­teer Com­pany, but this year vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers of Hyde Park and Mid­dles­bor­ough were also in at­ten­dance.

The com­pa­nies were con­sol­i­dated ef­fec­tive Novem­ber 21.

PHO­TOS BY GIANNA DECARLO

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