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Mineola Mourns Passing of Chief William J. Mahoney

Longtime fire chief remembered

It was with deep regret that the Chief’s office of the Mineola Fire Department announced that on Friday Feb. 17, ex-Chief William J. Mahoney answered his final alarm. Chief Mahoney fought a courageous battle against cancer and remained a proud firefighter throughout his ordeal.

Bill Mahoney was involved in the fire service for nearly forty years.  From 1972 to 1976, Bill served as a member of Engine Company Three and the Rescue Squad of the Garden City Park Fire Department. During his time in Garden City Park he rose to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. A seasoned firefighter, Bill quickly found a home in the Mineola Fire Department when he joined in April of 1976.

Bill was an active firefighter and soon caught the attention of his brother firefighters in Engine Company One.  In 1983 he was elected 2nd Lieutenant of Engine One and after four years as Lieutenant he was elected to the position of Captain in 1987.

For the next two years Bill would lead “The Pride of Mineola” as Engine Company One like to be called. This leadership experience gave Bill the confidence and support of the department as he sought to enter the Chief’s Office in 1989.

Serving four years as Assistant Chief from 1989-1993, Bill worked many major fires and continued to lead the department forward. In 1993, William J. Mahoney was elected by his peers to lead Mineola’s bravest as Chief of Department.  Chief Mahoney remained in office from 1993-1995.  

Throughout his 35 years in the Mineola Fire Department, Bill always remained focused on his family. Bill’s wife Carol, always at his side, has been a longtime member of the Mineola Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary.  Their three children: Kristine, Colleen and Billy Jr. grew up in Mineola’s Firehouse and always supported their father’s volunteer work.  

In 2009, Chief Mahoney provided the following insight to the Chief’s office on his time as Chief:

Chief Chat With Chief William J. Mahoney

Approximately how many calls a year did you have?  What types of calls?

During my tenure as Chief of the Department, I had the opportunity to serve the village alongside 1st Assistant Chief Gary Mazur and 2nd Assistant Chief Walter Langer, who has since passed and we all miss dearly. Together we received approximately 400-450 calls. Those calls ranged from signal 10 calls, house fires, car fires and automatic alarms. In fact within the first 24 hours as becoming chief of the department I dealt with a signal 10 working house fire.

What other jobs were you doing during your time as Chief? (Work, family)

Besides being chief of the department, I worked for Siemens Corporation as an operations manager and then unfortunately lost my job due to a company acquisition. From there I balanced interviews and parenting, while priding myself in making every athletic game for each one of my three children. Also, during this time I was fortunate to obtain a position at Winthrop hospital. Thanks in part to the great people at Winthrop I was able to actively make daytime fires due to my close proximity to all areas around the village.

What new equipment or procedures did you implement during your tenure?

Throughout my tenure we implemented various entry tools for both the engine and truck companies. We installed magnetic key readers so we knew who entered the department at all times. Also I implemented that when you become a Chief you received your Chief car and that was the vehicle that stayed with you through your tenure.

What type of Chief’s car did you have?

I had a Ford crown Victoria with a police package equipped in the vehicle. This consisted of a better suspension, bigger engine as well as a series of lights and sirens that were state-of-the-art for its time.

What was your most memorable fire as chief?

My most memorable fire was a signal 10 fire at the Birchwood apartments. This was one of the first times the incident command center was used to its fullest potential, this is something we worked hard at achieving after the rehabilitation fire and it all came together that night, due in large part by every fire fighter who arrived to the scene that day. Notably we received a citation from Nassau County for our efforts in fighting that blaze.

What advice would you give to today’s officers?

The advice I would give today’s officers is to know how the buildings, parking garages and new homes are built and to drill and practice on techniques for fighting these types of fires. To be prepared for the worst because when you are challenged in a difficult situation you will be able to react and not panic. Lastly, remember the safety of your men is the most important.