Sunderland Fire Department holds 85th birthday party

  • A Sunderland Fire Department volunteer shows a group of children the department’s utility vehicle. Recorder Staff/Christie Wisniewski

  • The Sunderland Fire Department provided cake, cookies, and plastic fire hats for those who attended its 85th birthday party. Recorder Staff/Christie Wisniewski

Recorder Staff
Wednesday, February 07, 2018

SUNDERLAND — In 1933, the Sunderland Fire Department was created. It lived a shed near Sunderland Town Hall, had a single “fire car,” and responded to approximately 10 calls a year.

Now, this year marks a cause for celebration — the department’s 85th birthday.

In 85 years, the department has moved from a tiny shed to its current home on River Road, and it has a whole garage full of fire trucks and other public safety vehicles. And what better time to show off how far they’ve come than a birthday party?

Cars lined the perimeter of the public safety complex at 105 River Road Tuesday evening. The public was invited to the department’s birthday party to enjoy cake in the front room and take a tour of the complex.

Inside, the department was alive with the sound of more than 50 excited children and parents who couldn’t wait to take a tour.

The front room was aptly decorated with “Happy Birthday” banners, streamers, confetti, two large birthday cakes, and plastic firefighter hats for the little ones to wear.

The party didn’t end there. The department opened up their garage so the interested public could take a look at its fire trucks, ambulances, boat, 4-by-4 vehicle, utility truck, and more. Even better, children were able to carefully check out the interior of some of the vehicles (with a few accidental horn-honks). Department volunteers happily gave tours of each of the vehicles to interested kids and their parents.

Fire Capt. Michael Zeoli stood in the front room at the beginning of the event and addressed a group of young boys who had just sat down, hoping to get some cake early.

“If you want, you guys can go check out the firetrucks and stuff,” he suggested.

It was a very popular suggestion. Instantly, the boys sprung up from their chairs and made a beeline for the garage.

Later, the crowd convened in the front room to begin the celebration.

“I’m really excited about how many people came!” Zeoli exclaimed.

He gave a brief history of the department and how far it’s come in its 85 years of existence. “We had about 10 calls a year (back then),” said Zeoli. “Last year, we went out 132 times.”

Eventually, they got a fire truck to replace their fire car, which they still are in possession of. According to Zeoli, the truck is being restored in Maine and will later be displayed at the department.

After the brief history lesson, cake candles were lit and the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to the department. Children in fire hats lined up to get a piece and talk about what they just learned about their local fire station.