Written by Harry Loud Friday, 17 February 2012 00:00
In a gala celebration held Saturday, Feb. 11, Wantagh Fire Department installed its line and administrative officers including Chief of Department William R. Allen. In addition, the department honored Donald E. Snyder for 60 years of service to the district.
Ten members of Ladies Auxiliary were sworn in, followed by the department administrative officers. This was followed by the line officers consisting of 12 lieutenants, 11 captains, 3 assistant chiefs and the Chief of Department William R. Allen. Allen was accompanied by his wife Kelly and his five children, Will, Megan, Ryan, Matthew, and Shannon.
Service awards were presented for “Years of Service,” in addition to honoring Commissioner Don Snyder with proclamations from Nassau County and Town of Hempstead officials.Snyder began his firefighting career with LeRoy Chemical & Hose Co. in upstate New York in 1944. The first rig he rode was a 1936 Buffalo Fire Apparatus. Upon moving to Levittown in 1951 he joined Wantagh Hook, Ladder & Engine Company 1, the only fire company in the Wantagh area at that time. He was assigned to Station 2, Engine 2 in the north zone and in 1953 transferred to Engine 4, the company in which he has served for the past 60 years.
Snyder worked his way through the ranks, lieutenant, captain, and assistant chief and in 1962 became the chief of department. In 1966 he ran for and was elected as fire commissioner, holding it for over 45-years.
When Station 2 voted to break away from Company 1 in 1954 they formed Company 2, and Snyder became the “temporary chairman.” Of the 44 charter members of Company 2, Snyder is the only active member.
He has served as vice president 1954-56, treasurer 1965-66, chaplain 1996-2000 and was named “Honorary President of Company 2” in 1999. He has emceed just about every event in the Wantagh Fire Department and in 1975 was named “Fireman of the Year.”
Snyder was also instrumental in setting up the Haps Scholarship Awards Program for four deserving students within the fire district. The late Dora Haps, in memory of her late husband “Willy” who had also served honorably with the department, requested this program.