On October 3, 2017, U.S. Senator Chris Coons spoke on the Senate floor to honor the life of firefighting legend Lou Amabili. Lou, a 70-year veteran with Hockessin Fire Company, Delaware State Fire School and Congressional Fire Safety Institute, passed away on September 28, 2017, and was remembered for his contributions to his hometown fire department, his service to the Delaware State Fire School and his national role of protecting firefighters. Followingare the Senator’s remarks.
“Mr. President, I rise today to honor a true Delawarean, one who dedicated the majority of his life in service to others. Mr. Louis J. Amabili, the son of Italian immigrants, rose from volunteering at his local fire company to become one of the most important and trusted voices in the American fire service.
“Lou was a legend in the Delaware firefighting community and, especially, in my hometown of Hockessin, Delaware. Lou proudly served the Hockessin Fire Company for 70 years holding every position one could possibly hold — Chief Engineer, 1st and 2nd Assistant Chief, along with Vice President, President, President Emeritus, and Director.
“He was regarded as a humble, down-to-earth, passionate and caring gentleman. He rarely sought the limelight, even as he was thrust into it. He could walk into any event, whether national conventions or local meetings, and know individuals’ names and make them feel like they were the most important person in the room.
“Lou embodied the term ‘public servant.’ He heard his calling to serve his community and understood it as his personal obligation. There was no greater ally of firefighters in Delaware or across the country than Lou. His continued service of seven-plus decades set a high standard for dedication to Delaware’s fire service. He was a giant in the fire service community and his decades of dedicated service are a testament to how much he cared about his calling and his neighbors.
“I first met Lou in 2000 when I was county council president, and over my ten years in county government, Lou was a frequent source of powerful advice, encouragement and insight. I always looked forward to seeing him at the annual Delaware Volunteer Firefighter Association luncheon where I was sure to get honest feedback about how things were going in Washington.
“Lou gained national recognition in the fire service when President Richard Nixon appointed him to serve on the National Commission for Fire Prevention and Control in 1970, which produced the landmark report, America Burning.
“A graduate of Conrad High School and the University of Delaware with a degree in chemistry, he was appointed the first Director of the Delaware State Fire School in 1964 and served in that capacity through 1996. Upon his retirement, Governor, now Senator, Tom Carper signed a resolution naming the school the ‘Louis J. Amabili Fire Training Center.’
“From 1973 to 1980, Lou served as President of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors; from 1978 to 1986, he served as a charter member of the National Fire Academy Board of Visitors. In addition, Lou served on the NFPA Board of Directors from 1980 to 1986 and was chairman of the Fire Department Instructors Conference in 1979 and 1980.
“Widely respected by his colleagues, CFSI President William F. Jenaway said, ‘Throughout his entire career, Lou was fully committed to the health and safety of the men and women who have served in the fire service. He was always willing and eager to share his knowledge with both aspiring and veteran firefighters and cared deeply about preserving the fire service’s rich heritage. It was an honor to serve with him for many years on the CFSI Board of Directors. I valued his friendship as did my fellow board members. His contributions to our organization and to the nation’s fire service will preserve his legacy as a legendary leader for many years to come.’
“While the fire service and the safety of his fellow firefighters was his passion, his family was his love. His wife of nearly 60 years, Carmella, was his constant companion as he travelled extensively to national conventions or speaking engagements. His daughter, Janice Amabili, his son, Louis J. Amabili Jr. and his wife, Bridget; his grandson, Louis J. Amabili III and his wife, Lacie; and his great grandchildren, Lyza and Silas, will be forever proud of his legacy of service.
“Mr. President, Lou was indeed an inspiration to generations of firefighters, not just in his home company of Hockessin but to all the firefighters of Delaware. He may be gone, but he will never be forgotten.
“Thank you, M. President. I yield the floor.”