At his final meeting earlier this month, outgoing Chief of Department Robert Connolly announced that ex-chief and Mayor of Mineola Scott P. Strauss was selected to be the 2020 Firefighter of the Year.
“Having my name placed alongside all of the previous recipients of this award is a great honor and as I think of those firefighters, I am humbled by it,” Strauss said. “Becoming a volunteer firefighter requires a great deal of training, dedication, commitment and an incredible amount of support and understanding from your family. It takes a special group of people to be the family of a firefighter. Leaving a family dinner, holiday celebration or a warm bed in the middle of the night at a moments notice to respond to a fire call adds another layer of stress at home and at work. Not everyone can handle that day after day and night after night. So to that end, I would like to thank my family for their encouragement and tolerance in allowing me the opportunity to serve our community as a volunteer firefighter. I would also like to thank my fellow firefighters. No one in the fire department does anything alone, it is wholly a team effort and being recognized for ones service by their peers is the ultimate compliment.”
Strauss has been an active member of Truck Company 2 since 1981. During his 40 years of dedicated service he rose through the ranks of “The Workhorse Company” serving as lieutenant for four years before taking the helm as captain from 1992–94. When his term of office ended, Strauss continued to serve in the fire department while pursuing his career in law enforcement and raising his family. Truck Company Two twice recognized Strauss as the Firefighter of the Year in 1987 and 1998. The Firefighter of the Year award is Strauss’ first from the department. In 1999, he was elected to serve as an assistant chief. He diligently carried out his duties and continually earned the respect of his peers. His positive attributes resulted in his election to the position of Chief of Department, which he held from 2003-05.
Strauss’ family is no stranger to service. As child, Strauss saw his parents involved in the Mineola Volunteer Ambulance Corps (MVAC). He would later join them and meet his future wife Pat while serving in the Corps. He also accomplished the rank of Eagle Scout in Troop 45 were he continues to serve as a scout leader, acting as a mentor to future leaders. Strauss’ dedication to the fire department and the community has earned him the title of “Hometown Hero.” It is no surprise that the community has repeatedly elected him village mayor.
While the fire service has always been his passion, Strauss also excelled in his chosen profession—law enforcement. With more than 20 years of service in the NYPD, Strauss retired as a decorated detective in the Elite Emergency Service Unit. During his career, Strauss was awarded the NYPD Medal of Honor for his efforts to rescue a fellow police officer who was injured and pinned down by criminal gunfire. In 2001, Strauss had just returned home from a midnight tour in ESU when he learned of the terror attacks. Without hesitation he turned around and went right back to the city, and found himself in the middle of Ground Zero. He located several trapped officers in the rubble and stayed with them, often digging by hand to get them out alive. His efforts were later chronicled by Oliver Stone in the film World Trade Center.
Over the years, Strauss was always an innovative and progressive leader. He initiated the formation of Mineola’s Firefighter Assist Standby Team (FAST) to rescue trapped firefighters. This was the first of its kind in the department’s battalion and continues to be utilized by surrounding departments. Strauss was also the first junior firefighter to achieve the rank of Chief of Department. Strauss gave special attention to the youth who will carry on the department’s tradition of service. Strauss implemented the first Ride-a-long program in Nassau, which allows juniors to actively assist the department at alarms. Strauss continues to serve as an advisor to Mineola’s famous Juniors program. Strauss also worked to secure funding for new gear for the juniors and the firefighters. Always looking to expand our capabilities, Strauss worked with the chiefs’ office this year to develop and implement the first Fire Service Drone Response Team in Nassau.
Throughout his years in the Mineola Fire Department, Strauss has always remained dedicated to his family. Strauss and his wife have two children, Bryan and Christopher who serve alongside their father in Truck Two. Bryan is an ex-captain in Truck Company Two and was recently elected to serve as Second Assistant Chief of the Mineola Fire Department. Christopher was also elected to serve as the new captain of Truck Two.
Perhaps most importantly, Strauss is a friend to all in the department. He is always there to offer sage advice, to listen, or to roll up his sleeves and go to work. Strauss is a perfect example of a hard working, dedicated and compassionate leader and is a role model for today’s volunteer fire service.
Additionally, on Thursday April 8, the Mineola Fire Department held its annual Elections. Andrew Martone Jr. was elected to lead the department as Chief of Department. Assistant Chief Domingos Magalhaes ascends to First Assistant Chief and Bryan Strauss enters the chiefs office as Second Assistant Chief. Firefighter John Englis will serve as First battalion Delegate.
The individual companies of the Mineola Fire Department have also held their elections. The line officers for 2021 will be:
Engine One: Captain Danny Accatino; First Lieutenant Neal Ressa; and Second lieutenant Andres Dias
Truck Two: Captain Christopher Strauss; First Lieutenant Brendan Corrigan; and Second Lieutenant Stephen Martone
Engine Three: Captain Danny Magalhaes; First Lieutenant Andrew Carvalho; and Second Lieutenant Joseph Attard