Fred R. Harrison, the former Assistant Director of the physical plant at Farmingdale College and a long-time member of the Melville Fire Department, answered his last alarm on July 21, 2017.

Fred was born in Setauket on December 26, 1928, to Fredrick and Amelia. Fred and his family lived on the Roads End Farm on the Country Estate of Edward L. Tinker in the Village of Poquott. He Graduated from Port Jefferson High School in 1946, and the following year joined the Setauket Fire Department. In 1950, Fred graduated from the Agricultural and Technical College at Farmingdale, and enlisted in the Army. He was initially assigned to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he developed an appreciation of cowboy boots, which he came to wear on a daily basis. In 1951 Fred was transferred to the Occupation Force in Germany where he served with the Army Corp of Engineers until his discharge in 1952.

On his return, Fred was hired by Country Gardens as their head Foreman. During his 15 years with this company, he supervised many large projects in the metropolitan area including the 1964 Worlds Fair, landscaping the Long Island State Parkway system and the building of the Dix Hills Golf Course.

Over the past 58 years Harrison served the Melville Fire Department as a Firefighter, Chief and Commissioner. Fred 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 as ex-Captain and Commissioner. In 1959 Fred joined the Melville Fire Department and became its 91st member. From 1961 to 1965 he served as a Hose Company One officer and moved up the ranks serving as Assistant Chief from 1966 to 1971. Fred was elected as the 14th Chief of the Melville Fire Department on January 1, 1972.

Chief Harrison was a progressive thinker who recognized the importance of increasing the level of emergency service provided to the residents of the community. As Chief of the Department, he became aware of the Advanced Life Support program, which was in effect in Nassau County. Together with members of the Department’s Rescue Squad, and cooperation of the Nassau County Medical Center, the first Suffolk County Fire Department Advanced Life Support Unit was placed into operation in Melville. In 1973, Chief Harrison was invited to a demonstration of a new hydraulic rescue tools to assist with extrication of crash victims. He was instrumental in convincing the Melville Board of Fire Commissioners to purchase the tools, making the Department the first in Suffolk County equipped with these devices.

In 1974, the Huntington Town Board, seeing a need for the coordination of emergency medical services among fire departments within the town, created an Emergency Medical Services Committee. Fred was appointed to a five-year term to the committee by Supervisor Jerome Ambro and and served as its first Chairman. Under his leadership the Committee worked to create the Huntington Community First Aid Squad, which provides EMS for those areas of the Town of Huntington not protected by fire department EMS.

Fred was elected to the Melville Board of Fire Commissioners in 1975 and served for 20 years, four consecutive five-year terms ending in 1995. As a Board member he was an advocate of increasing the members training and providing the department with the most updated equipment. While serving as Chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners Fred proudly swore in his son, James as the 26th Chief of the Department in January 1994.

Fred remained an active member for 58 years. He will be remembered as a dedication and commitment to the Melville Fire Department.   

– Fire News story by Tom Pesce