In 1976, Metropolitan Fire Association, Inc. (Metropolitan) was founded by a group of New York City Firefighters and Police Officers. The name Metropolitan Fire was chosen to show tribute to the old Metropolitan Fire District, which was formed in the late 1880s, as New York City’s first paid fire department. The adult members of Metropolitan, decided to create an Explorer Post, which would ultimately allow young men the opportunity to learn about firefighting and fire prevention. As more teenagers joined Metropolitan, the number of training classes offered by the adults, increased. Our explorers received instruction from Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT), Firefighters, and Police Officers. The explorers were also treated to trips to the various fire training schools, police rescue school, and the Red Cross First Aid school. After learning valuable skills, our explorers would drill in old abandoned buildings to apply what had been learned. Besides classroom and hands-on-training, our members participated in various parades and special events. The first apparatus purchased by Metropolitan, was a 1974 Dodge Ram pickup truck. The pickup truck was equipped with a water tank that supplied a gas engine water pump and a variety of fire hoses. During the summer of 1976, Metropolitan saw its first fire; a brush fire. Many of our adult and explorer members responded and assisted in suppressing the fire. In 1977, Metropolitan decided to purchase a 1954 Ward LaFrance. The “new” truck had an open cab and was equiped with a flat head gasoline Waukesha engine that could pump around 750 gallons per minute (gpm). The truck had previously served as a New York City Civil Defense engine prior to being purchased. As the explorer post grew, so did the need for more equipment. Metropolitan was able to acquire a 1950 ‘B’ Model Mack Rescue Truck. The Metropolitan members equipped the Mack with firefighting equipment, first aid supplies, and some light rescue tools. Since the members were excited to show off the “new” apparatuses, they began to attend antique fire shows and musters. During these events, our explorers would compete in events and would win various prizes for their skills in specific fields.
In 1980, Metropolitan fell into hard economic times. Our funding dropped significantly due to the country’s economy facing its own hardships. Also, our Mack was totaled in a rollover accident; thankfully no one was injured. In addition, our LaFrance engine seized up and blew while our members were responding to a large brush fire.
In 1982, Metropolitan was able to acquire a used 1972 Mack CF-600 from New York City Fire Department. The Mack was an enclosed cab and was equipped with a diesel engine that could pump 1,250 gpm. Despite the fact the engine had seen better days; it served its purpose for the members and would become old reliable.
In the late 1980s, many of our former explorers who had become EMTs, firefighters, and police officers, returned to Metropolitan to help train the next group of explorers.
In 1993, Metropolitan was forced to condemn the Mack after ten plus years of service. The body rusted beyond repair and the chassis began to separate from the cab. The members decided it was time to bid it farewell. However, that same year, Metropolitan was able to purchase a 1963 Mack C-95-F. The Mack was a partially enclosed cab equipped with a 707C gasoline engine that could pump 1,000 gpm and included a foam unit. The members worked tirelessly to get this apparatus into service.
In 1994, as Metropolitan’s membership continued to grow, the need for another apparatus became apparent. Metropolitan decided to purchase another 1963 Mack-C-95-F. This Mack included the same equiptment as the Mack purchased during the previous year; however, it had a quarter of the mileage. Therefore, the Mack with more mileage became Metropolitan’s show truck. Later that year, Metropolitan acquired a 1969 Mack CF-608. This Mack was a partially enclosed cab equipped with a 707C gasoline engine, air brakes, power steering, and had a high/low pressure pump capable pumping 1,250 gpm. Furthermore, this truck had upper and lower cabinet , as well as, a 7,500 watt generator.
In 1996, Metropolitan celebrated its 20th Anniversary; however, that celebration was short lived. Once again, Metropolitan entered into another economic hardship. We were forced to vacate the land that housed our apparatus, since it was recently sold. In an effort to keep Metropolitan afloat, our members pooled as many resources as they could. However, due to member decline, funding was still extremely low. Luckily, we were able to operate on a very small budget and received help from various tri-state fire departments. These departments sold or donated some of their used equipment.
During the late 1990s, Metropolitan reorganized itself by establishing a new executive board. We also revamped our purpose to better reflect the direction the organization was heading towards. The new executive board vowed to keep Metropolitan afloat.
In 2001, Metropolitan retired the two 1963 Mack engines and the 1969 Mack. With the retirement of all our apparatuses, Metropolitan purchased its first aerial ladder; a 1960 Mack C85. We also received a 1971 Madsen Young engine which was graciously donated by the Ralston Volunteer Fire Department, located in Pennsylvania.
On September 11, 2001, Metropolitan lost two of its members –
Lieutenant Gregory Atlas, FDNY Engine Company 10
Fire Patrolman Keith Roma, New York Fire Patrol Company 2
Many of our members, who were New York City Firefighters, EMTs, and Police Officers, responded to provide assistance during and after September 11, 2001. They provided assitance at the World Trade Center site and digging through the debris brought from the site to the Staten Island landfill. The remaining members were requested to cover various firehouses in Brooklyn. Metropolitan operated for five continuous days until being relieved on September 16, 2001. However, many of our members provided assistance for many months to come.
In 2002, Metropolitan decided to upgrade our apparatus, quarters, and equipment to prepare ourselves for future events. We were finally able to find a home on the grounds of Seaview Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, in Staten Island. This new home provided more space to store our apparatus, equiptment, and provided numerous places to train. As part of our upgrades, we replaced the 1960 Mack and 1971 Madsen with a 1977 Mack CF600 Engine and a 1972 Mack CF700 Tower Ladder. We also replaced our turnout gear with bunker suites. In addition, Metropolitan acquired new equipment and tools. Our members began training on this new equipment immediately.
In 2003, our membership roster increased tremendously. Metropolitan was asked to provide service to the community during the blackout on August 14, 2003. We also continued our campaign to upgrade our equipment and training allowing us to better serve our community in both youth education and disaster response.
During the late 2000s , Metropolitan expanded our complex at Seaview Hospital. We were able to purchase and renovate an office trailer thanks to donations from various community groups and corporations. This new trailer provided our members with a place to store all of our gear under one roof. During this period, we also were able to purchase a 15 passenger van, which has proved invaluable for transporting our members to various functions.
On March 13, 2010, Metropolitan was again asked to assist with the Nor’easter that struck in March. Our members worked continuously through that night cutting up trees and clearing roads despite our quarters being damaged by the storm. Our tent structure that housed our engine was blown off its foundation and destroyed. This left our engine exposed to the elements. After hearing about the loss of our tent, the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, donated one to Metropolitan. This tent allowed us to house both apparatus under one roof.
From August 26 through August 28, 2011, Metropolitan assisted during Hurricane Irene. Our members worked for three consecutive days clearing roads, cutting trees, and pumping out basements due to rainfall that came with the storm. After this storm, Camp Pouch graciously donated a rowboat to our organization. Over the course of the next several months, our members began repairing and training on our new addition.
On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated Staten Island. Before the storm, our members were out early, cutting trees and clearing roads. When the storm surge hit, our members responded to New Dorp Beach to assist in rescuing people from their homes. Metropolitan, along with other first responders from the FDNY and NYPD went house-to-house, in rising flood waters, evacuating residents. As the storm surge rose, Metropolitan responded to the South Beach area where we deployed our boat to remove residents from their flooded homes. The water level, in this area, rose to over seven feet making the boat the only means of removing residents. In the subsequent days, our members worked countless hours clearing roads, cutting trees, pumping basements, and supplementing the already overwhelmed emergency services. That night, Metropolitan also became a victim of the storm. Once again, our apparatus tent, that was recently donated to us about two years prior, collapsed under the intense wind. Our engine and van also sustained saltwater damage from the flooding that we are still in the process of repairing.
Today, our membership levels are still continuing to increase. However, we are still recovering from the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. Furthermore, with Mother Nature more unpredictable than ever, we continue to prepare ourselves for the next call. We also continue to provide fire safety education and preparedness to the community.