Franklin Square and Munson Fire Department commemorates one of its own


The Franklin Square and Munson Fire Department’s new training facility now bears the name of the late former fire district Commissioner Joseph Torregrossa, who helped design the much-needed facility.

The new on-site facility, located at Liberty Place, was formally dedicated in honor or Torregrossa during a ceremony on Nov. 19. Torregrossa died last year after being diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and prostate cancer in 2014. He was heavily involved in the project, despite his battles with these illnesses related to his work at the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11 attacks.

“He worked so hard and diligently throughout the years, and pushed everyone to get this finished,” his daughter Gina Torregrossa said.

The new facility will allow the department to train through interior fire operations, bail out rescue operations, confined space and forceful entry.

It took two years from Torregrossa’s original planning stages to get the project built and installed at the fire department’s headquarters. Research and development started in July 2021, then American Fire Training Systems designed the facility.

The project price tag was $282,000 — $50,000 was contributed from a Nassau County community revitalization program grant. The department’s building and grounds reserve covered the rest of the cost.

“Making this possible was greatly and truly a team effort,” said Board Chairman Dennis Lyons.

“(Torregrossa is) somebody who truly is the definition of dedication and service to his fellow human beings,” said Ed Ra, state assemblyman.

The new facility is made from four-and-a-half steel trailers and was constructed off-site. It has an adjustable track system so that the trainees can change the shape of the rooms and vary their training routines to reflect situations they face during emergencies.

“There are no limits,” said Chief Joseph Gerrato. “We have three floors so you can operate multiple operations as you would in a regular fire operation.”

A part of the third story roof allows firefighters to practice bail outs from 35 feet up.

“We have availability here to jump from the roof and everything else,” Lyons said.

Torregrossa and his team designed the building so that they can operate the same full-scale operation as they would with any structure fire.

“Now, we can brush up on our training and curriculums here in town and always be readily available and ready to respond to everything,” Gerrato said.

The facility has a standby hose on the second floor and windows that open and close into blackout mode, to reflect situations where firefighters aren’t able to see their surroundings during an emergency. This allows firefighters to train the skills necessary to adapt and react during a fire.

County Legislator John Giuffré joined community members at the dedication to express his gratitude for the Franklin Square first responders.

“You’re volunteers in what can only be described as a dangerous occupation,” said Giuffré.

Before letting everyone inside to tour the facility, Deacon Doug Ferreiro dedicated the building with a blessing and Giuffré smashed a champagne bottle on the corner of it.

“Commissioner Torregrossa took the lead role in working with us to ensure we got the best training facility, with every possible thing we can get for it,” Gerrato said. “And he wanted it to last us for many years.”

Even after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, he continued to put his all into supporting and volunteering for this fire department. His daughter, Gina, expressed that the former commissioner was a “true volunteer” and that his dedication to the fire department “was his life.”

“It’s an honor to have his legacy continue throughout history, because as you’ve seen today, he’s going to be truly missed and remembered,” Gina said. “This is exactly how it should be and how he would want it.”

Christine Torregrossa, Joseph’s widow, wanted people to know how the completion of the project he worked so hard on, and its dedication to his memory, would have made him feel.

“He’s smiling, for sure,” Christine Torregrossa said. “He’s a very happy man right now.”