The Melville Fire Department mourned the loss of ex-Chief and Past Commissioner Fred R. Harrison, 88, who answered his last alarm on July 21, 2017. Over the past 58 years, Harrison served the Melville Fire Department as a Firefighter, Chief and Commissioner. Harrison has a long history with the fire service dating back to 1947 when he joined the Setauket Fire Department, following in the boot prints of his father Fredrick Harrison. In 1959, Harrison joined the Melville Fire Department, serving as a Hose Company 1 officer and moving up the ranks as Assistant Chief. He was elected Chief of the Department and served in that position from 1972-1973.
Chief Harrison was a progressive thinker and recognized the importance of increasing the level of emergency medical care provided to the residents of the community. Under his leadership, Melville soon became the first Suffolk County fire department to place an Advanced Life Support unit into operation. Harrison was also instrumental in bringing the “Jaws of Life” rescue tool to Melville in 1973, becoming the first Department in Suffolk County equipped with this life-saving device.
Harrison was the former Assistant Director of the Physical Plant at Farmingdale State College. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1950 and was later transferred to the Occupation Force in Germany, where he served in the Army Corps of Engineers until his discharge in 1952. Upon returning to Long Island, Harrison was hired by Country Gardens as their head foreman. During his 15 years with the company, he supervised many large projects in the metropolitan area including the 1964 World’s Fair, landscaping the Long Island State Parkway System and building of the Dix Hills Golf Course.
Harrison was elected to the Board of Fire Commissioners in 1975 and served for 20 years. He was an advocate of increasing the members’ training and providing the department with the most up-to-date equipment. While serving as Board Chairman, he proudly swore in his son James as Chief of the Department in 1994. Fred Harrison will be remembered for his dedication and commitment to the Melville Fire Department.
Harrison was the devoted husband of the late Maryann Harrison. He is survived by his loving wife Carolyn, and children Catherine Moore (Raymond), James (Debra), Laurie Slade (Steven), and stepsons Matthew, Brian (Marisa), and Doug (Tricia) LoPalo. He was also the caring grandfather and great-grandfather to many.
– Fire News story and photo by Steve Silverman