In 1923, Babe Ruth hit 41 home runs for the Yankees. Calvin Coolidge was in the White House. And the National Football League was three years old.
It was also the year the Brookhaven Fire Department was organized.
The department will celebrate the century milestone anniversary on Saturday, Sept. 23, with a parade and a community open house at the fire station on Montauk Highway.
The all-volunteer department has more than 100 members, 40 of whom have been with the department 20 years or more. The department serves Brookhaven and parts of Bellport, Shirley and Yaphank. Members responded to more than 750 calls in 2022. They’re on track to respond to more than 800 this year.
“When the tones go off, we always have a crew ready to go,” chief of department Anthony Verni said.
Verni, 36, joined the department in 2004. He is one of seven family members who have served with the department. They include his father, Michael Verni, who has more than 45 years with the department, and his late grandfather James F. Verni, who was with the department for 63 years and was chief when the department celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1973.
“It’s something we don’t take lightly,” Anthony Verni said of his family’s ties to the department.
It’s not easy for volunteer fire departments to recruit new members, Verni said. The position requires a substantial time commitment between mandatory training and responding to fires and other emergencies.
Still, Brookhaven has been able to recruit new members, several of whom, like Verni, are multi-generational members of the department. “People still want to do the right thing for the community,” he said.
Members also like the camaraderie that comes with being part of the department, he said.
Forty of the department’s members are considered Life Members, meaning they have logged more than 20 years of service.
Eight members with at least 50 years of service will be honored as marshals for the parade. They are: