Warden William Gresalfi Awarded NYS Assembly Firefighter Achievement Award
On Wednesday October 24th, the Nassau County Firefighters Museum was the setting for the first New York State Assembly Firefighter Achievement Award Ceremony. Mineola’s New York State Assemblyman Tom McKevitt presented this prestigious award to a Warden William Gresalfi of the Mineola Fire Department. Bill Gresalfi has been an active member of the Mineola Fire Department since May, 1976. He has served as Financial Secretary, Vice-President and President of Company 3 of the Mineola Fire Department. He’s also served as Chairman of the Picnic Committee and the St. Patrick’s Day Corned Beef Dinner Party for the Department.
Bill became Chairman of the Fire Prevention program over 10 years ago. He is instrumental in the running of the program. He spends many hours setting up appointments with the community schools teaching children about fire prevention and also sets up demonstrations such as the “Smoke House”. He also does fire prevention for adults and senior citizens. While he was working as a police officer for the Nassau County’s Third Precinct he used much of his vacation time visiting schools and various organizations for his fire prevention presentations. Bill is now retired with over 25 years of experience as a police officer.
Bill also uses his experience as a police officer in his position as Co-Head Advisor of the Mineola Junior Fire Department. He teaches the Juniors diligence and caring for their community. He is always present at their functions, such as the annual Village Halloween Party, making sure that they are helping out the village children and keeping things running smoothly. When the Holiday season begins, he takes on the task of the Annual Village Tree Lighting and is present until the Holiday Tree is lit, sometimes in brutal cold. You will never see him complain because he thrives on pleasing his neighbors in the Village.
Bill is also responsible for the trainings that the Juniors receive. He instills a sense of duty into the Juniors that make them respond to every training. Since most of the juniors move up into the Department, Bill feels it’s his responsibility to make sure they know every facet of firematics. Every year, he takes the Juniors to the New York State Academy of Fire Science where their firefighting prowess is tested. More times than not, Mineola’s Juniors are in the top five as far as garnering awards for their performances.
Once March rolls around, Bill is completely absorbed in the Annual Pasta Dinner. He gives a lot of his free and personal time to make sure the Pasta Dinner offers the best it can to the community. This Pasta Dinner is an important event to the children and senior citizens from Mineola and the surrounding communities. Bill offers the businesses a chance to shine with all the banners that he creates. These banners are prominently displayed throughout the Village Community Center. At times, this is the only advertisement that some of the small businesses can afford.
When vacation time rolls around, Bill makes sure all his Juniors have their acquired points and have earned the right for “fun time”. This is when he becomes a Junior himself and you can see him on roller coasters and bungee jumping rides right there with a Junior. Sometimes he even comes home with a battle wound. He’s proud to display it because it’s so important to the Juniors that he is there with them. He’s served as their father figure and sometimes as a “grandfather figure” – much to his chagrin. He’s always willing to listen to the problems the Juniors have whether it be teen problems or helping them with their school assignments.
Perhaps one of Bills greatest accomplishments was the recent exchange program that he created between the FF-STELLINGEN-HAMBURG JUGENDFEUERWEHR, a German Youth Fire Brigade and the Mineola Junior Fire Department. This started as an e-mail exchange between the two groups that Bill fostered into an international exchange. Bill hosted several members of the Hamburg Fire Department in his home to begin the planning. Bill also traveled to Germany to see the German Juniors and prepare them for their visit to the United States. The culmination was a ten-day visit to Mineola by a group of youths from the Hamburg, Germany youth fire brigade along with their advisors and the Chief of their Department in July of this year. Bill planned and executed this historic exchange between the two fire service organizations. Never before has American and European youth firefighting organizations established such an international partnership that lead to this cultural and firematic exchange. Bill worked tirelessly with the other advisors to create an unforgettable experience for our German guests. He met them at the airport, led them on sightseeing in our area and even incorporated these youths into the Mineola Juniors annual summer trip to Lake George. The Mineola and German youths also participated in firematic training, discussed cultural differences and similarities and made life long friends during this exchange. Bill is now actively involved in planning, fund raising and preparing to take a group of Mineola Junior firefighters over to Hamburg, Germany next August to complete the exchange.
Bill has invested so much of himself into his community and never asks anything back. He has battled cancer just to bounce back and find himself at Headquarters to run the Junior program, run a Department event and even has time run back to Company 3 at Elm Place to report for a fire call.
In 1990, his fellow Department members chose Bill as Fireman of the Year. An honor he richly deserved. Bill was also recognized by the Town Of Hempstead with the Firematic award and by the Garden City Rotary Club and Mineola Chamber of Commerce with their Community Service Awards. Bill also served for many years as the departments First Battalion Delegate. Never one to rest, Bill recently stepped forward to again serve his department as a Warden. Despite all of his other commitments, Bill continues to gear up and respond to fire calls at all hours of the day and night. It was the Mineola Fire Department’s distinct pleasure to nominate Warden William Gresalfi as our first recipient of the NYS Assembly Firefighter Achievement Award.