New fire chiefs in Merrick


The Merrick Fire Department has named its new chiefs for 2019. Thomas Gies will return to the role of chief of the department, with Paul Scolieri and Patrick Gavigan named first and second assistant chiefs, respectively.

Gies last served as chief in 2017, after being chief for three years earlier. Gavigan is the outgoing 2018 chief, and Scolieri has served as chief as well, in 2002 and 2011.

The 95th Annual Inspection and Installation Dinner, on Jan. 19, was attended by local officials including County Executive Laura Curran, County Legislator Steve Rhoads, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen and town council members Erin King Sweeney and Anthony D’Esposito.

“Their love of the job, both career and volunteer, has helped them touch the lives of thousands by supporting, educating and giving their lives to the success of the fire service,” D’Es-posito wrote in a Facebook post.

“I am thankful and proud to call the Gies boys my friends,” he continued. “Honest, loyal and hardworking — they are the real deal.”

Gies volunteered for the department with his brothers, Bobby and Ronnie Jr., both now members of the New York City Fire Department. Their service honors their father, Ronnie E. Gies, who, as a member of the NYPD’s Rescue Squad 288, responded to the attacks at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and died in the effort to save others.

Growing up, Thomas Gies spent ample time with his father at Friendship Engine and Hose in Merrick, where he learned the ins and outs of being a firefighter. “I learned more from him than I did anybody else,” he told the Herald in 2017.

Gavigan has more than 25 years in the Merrick department, with specialties in fire prevention and engine operation. “Helping people who need it and providing service to the town is definitely the most important part” of the job, he said in 2017.

Scolieri was the chief of the Freeport Fire Department before joining Hook and Ladder Company 1 in 1993, where he has been ever since. The trio has created an efficient and fun department atmosphere, he said. “I can’t ask for two better guys to work with,” Scolieri said. “The titles don’t ever go to their heads. The three of us are a bunch of characters who always have good times and laughs but also know when to get to work.”

The department may soon be the home to three new fire engines. According to department spokesman Ron Luparello, three trucks, including a ladder truck and a rescue truck, were severely damages during Hurricane Sandy. Although they were repaired, they are clearly aging.

“They’ve been repaired, but there are still recurring issues,” Luparello said. “It’s time to replace them. If we get the trucks, the fleet will be good for another 20 years.”

A Feb. 26 Town of Hempstead public hearing is scheduled for discussion of purchasing new equipment.