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Next generation of Magerles joins Halesite Fire Dept.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

TIMES BEACON RECORD-Written By Karen Forman

Casey Magerle becomes fourth generation, and first woman, in her family in fire department

Much has changed since 1954. Back then, Marilyn Monroe married Joe DiMaggio, the Supreme Court made its ruling in Brown vs. the Board of Education, the best picture of the year was "From Here to Eternity," and the TV dinner was introduced.

At the same time, some things haven't changed, especially for the Magerle family. When Dwight Eisenhower was president and The New York Times cost 5 cents, Peter Magerle joined the Halesite Fire Department. By marrying Fran Colligan, he was uniting two families committed to fighting fires on Long Island, as Colligan's father was also a member of the force.

Fast forward to today, and 18-year-old Casey Magerle becomes the fourth generation in the firefighting chain, continuing the long tradition of contributing to a department that is within a stone's throw of the east side of Huntington Harbor.

"I feel that I've always been a part of the fire department — volunteering with their Easter egg hunt, their blood drives, their Christmas parties — whatever event you think of, I was there," Magerle said. "And when I turned 18, I thought, why not join?"

A freshman at SUNY Farmingdale, Magerle isn't sure if she wants to become an EMT or a firefighter, or both.

The Halesite Fire Department is considerably busier than it was in 1954. Last year, Halesite responded to a record 691 alarms with its 7 main pieces of equipment. That's way up from 1954, when the fire station used its 4 trucks to respond to 50 to 60 alarms.

"We are a volunteering family," she said. "We are always giving back to the community. It's in my blood on both sides of my family."

Indeed, even today, Magerle doesn't have to look far to find aunts, cousins and uncles who stand ready to help. Casey's mom, Heidie Magerle, and her aunt, Joanne Vogel, volunteer as EMTs at the Huntington Community First Aid Squad. Casey's father, Peter Magerle, and his brothers, Andrew and James, are also, naturally, firefighters. Her uncle, Richard Colligan, and his son, Craig, were also firefighters.

When they are not arriving at scenes of fire, accident or other emergency, the Magerles have pursued their careers. Casey's grandfather, Pete, was a longtime butcher; her father, Pete Magerle, is a career FDNY member. Her uncle, Dennis Magerle, is a retired science teacher in the Half Hollow Hills School District. He is the chairman of the Board of Trustees and the fire inspector for the Halesite F.D., and is also on the Suffolk County Vocational Education and Extension Board, which oversees the Suffolk County Fire Academy.

Current F.D. chief, Dan McConnell, became acquainted with the Magerle family when he was in the seventh grade with Michael Magerle, Casey's cousin.

McConnell said that other fire departments in the area may have four generations of the same family in one firehouse, since the Huntington and Cold Spring Harbor fire departments have both been around since the 1800s.

"But now we are seeing that the new wave of people joining the fire department are new to the fire department," McConnell said. "The fire department was not part of their family growing up."

Magerle is part of a growing trend of women joining the department.

"We have eight female members now, the greatest number we've ever had. We have about 78 members, and while eight may not seem like a lot, until recently we had only one here or there," said McConnell.

Because they were all at the same fires, the Magerles don't often swap stories during the holidays, said Pete Magerle, Casey's father. Still, they remember hearing about when Magerle's grandfather was at the Huntington Yacht Club fire in 1959, which destroyed the clubhouse and most of the club's archives. The next generation, including Magerle's dad and uncles, remember fighting the fire at the Hamburger Choo Choo restaurant, at the corner of Main and New streets in Huntington, in the late 1970s.

Magerle is currently a probationary firefighter, so she is taking firefighting classes and then will do hands-on training.

"She is doing really well," Pete Magerle, her father, said. "I am very proud of her. We all are."

Her genes and family history suit her just fine, she said.

"I can't wait," Magerle said. "I have always been fascinated by the fire department and really enjoy it."

Magerle may have more family company in two years, as her 16-year-old brother, Pete Magerle, has already indicated an interest in signing up.




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