In 1913, Elmhurst was just beginning to transition into the metropolis it is today. The Cord Meyer Development Co. had recently developed surrounding areas and on Grand Street, just south of Queens Boulevard, a firehouse to hold Engine 287 and Ladder 136 was built.
On Sept. 5, 100 years later, FDNY officers, firefighters and family members gathered at the entrance of the old firehouse, located at 86-53 Grand Ave. to celebrate the centennial of 287 and 136.
“The day this firehouse opened, it was a promise made by the Fire Department that we would always protect this community,” FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said. “At that time, the population was increasing and there was very little in the way of true fire protection here, but the day 287 and 136 were formed was not only an important day for the department, it was an important day for the city and for everyone in this community.”
At least 100 people crammed into the building with helmets, boots and fire equipment lining the wall, while firefighters dressed in their formal uniforms stood along the aisles in rows of two.
Outside, the FDNY bagpipe players belted out songs in honor of the firehouse’s 100-year milestone and passersby glanced curiously into the garage to see what all of the celebrating was about.
Even with the firehouse garage doors lifted open, the heat was oppressive but the firefighters stood at attention throughout the ceremony with their family and friends sitting by their sides.
The firefighters of Engine 287, Ladder 136 and Battalion 46 — who together refer to themselves as the Elmhurst Eagles — work in one of the most congested areas in the borough, and Chief of Department Edward Kilduff said that every firefighter in the company has gone above and beyond.
“That corner where Grand meets Queens Boulevard may represent the densest part of the city,” Kilduff said. “Every one-family house is a two-family house, every two-family house is a three-family house and every three-story building is being developed into a six-story building. The development and the challenges it holds brings out the best in us. The leadership you have in this house has always been something that we relish.”
Several speeches were given and citations were presented to both Engine 287 and Ladder 136.
“The impact you have made is measured not only in the fires that you’ve extinguished, but the lives you’ve saved,” Cassano said. “Being a New York City firefighter is an amazingly rewarding career and it carries with it an enormous responsibility. Our technology and knowledge of fire have expanded dramatically but the job itself never changes. The traditions of bravery and commitment remain strong because at the end of the day, this department’s number one resource is you, our members.”
More than 30 firehouses throughout the city will celebrate their 100th anniversary in the coming months, including the nearby Maspeth Firehouse, which is home to Squad 288 and Haz Mat 1.