Village officials lauded Brian Cook, who addressed the Board of Trustees for the last time as chief of the Rockville Centre Fire Department during a meeting at Village Hall on April 1.
“I want to thank Chief Cook for leading our fire department, for his unwavering dedication, for teaching others, for saving lives, for saving property and for opening my eyes to the dedication and skills of our many volunteers,” Deputy Mayor Kathy Baxley, the board’s liaison to the department, said to those in attendance.
Cook, a 31-year member of the department, spent the last six years as a chief, working his way up the ranks to serve as chief of department for the last two years. Over the six years, the department responded to 18,190 calls, he noted, and personally, as of April 1, he responded to 6,461.
“We have seen both good and bad while handling these calls, and I couldn’t be more proud of the men and women of the department for their professionalism and work ethic in making sure that the incidents were handled both safely and efficiently,” Cook said.
During Cook’s time as chief, he oversaw the completion of Fireman’s Memorial Park, helped establish a vehicle maintenance program, formed a committee to improve fire recruitment and retention, and secured three new fire engines and 80 new sets of bunker gear, among other accomplishments.
The fire department has about 330 members, making it the largest volunteer department in New York. “Your commitment to this village has been second to none,” Mayor Francis X. Murray told him at the meeting. “. . . Leading this department with 330 opinions, as the chief knows, is quite a task. You’ve done a fantastic job, and the village owes you quite a debt.”
Eric Burel, who served the last two years as first assistant chief, will take over as chief. Second Assistant Chief Jim Avondet will become first assistant chief, and Scott Mohr will take over Avondet’s role. Mohr, a 26-year member of Reliance Hose Company No. 3, defeated John Griffin, 110 votes to 102, in the April 4 fire election’s only contested race.
Though Cook’s term as chief ends on April 16, he said he plans to continue serving as a firefighter for Reliance Hose Company No. 3, where he has previously served as first lieutenant, second lieutenant and captain.
“I will always look fondly on the time I served as chief, and hold close the friendships that I have made with so many residents, village employees and so many of you at Village Hall,” Cook told the village board. “Thank you again for the opportunity to serve this great community.”