Woodmere F.D. installs first Orthodox Chief


Lenny Cherson will be installed as Woodmere Fire Department Chief on Saturday night at the Woodmere Country Club. He has the distinction of being the first Orthodox Jewish chief in the department’s 124 year history.

As an eleven year veteran of the Woodmere Fire Department, Cherson rose up the ranks from probationary fire fighter, to firefighter, Lieutenant of Hook and Ladder, Captain of Hook and Ladder, 2nd Assistant Chief, and 1st Assistant Chief. The Woodmere native and HILI alum is also an emergency medical technician and has roots with the New York City Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management.

Cherson, who spoke of the Department’s annual activity as averaging 700 calls per year, 967 to be exact in 2012 due to Super Storm Sandy, looks forward to implementing his two agenda items as Chief of the Department. “I want to increase training due to new regulations required by the State of New York and Office of Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as well as updating standard operating procedures.”

The Department which currently has approximately 70 volunteer members, 40 of which are active, do not work in shifts. “We are fortunate to have enough local coverage during the day. In addition, we work very closely with the Hewlett, Lawrence/Cedarhurst and Inwood Fire Departments. We have very detailed mutual aid with all the departments,” noted Cherson. “Sixty percent of our calls are fire responses, and forty percent are EMS related.” Fellow WFD member, Lieutenant Marc Deutsch conveyed the Department’s sentiment. “The members of the Woodmere Fire Department can look forward to the leadership of a dedicated chief that works tirelessly and cares deeply for his community, as well as his members.”

A member of Young Israel of Woodmere, Cherson, and his wife Raizy are parents to Rebecca 18, and Sarah, 16. He’s proud of the Community Chometz burning that the Department started on its own close to 10 years ago as a practical service to residents and a very important safety measure. “Last year over 1000 people came to our fire house to participate. This was implemented in response to some individuals using chemicals and gasoline to start fires to burn chometz,” noted Cherson. Other important fire safety information is conveyed to the community through seasonal mailings. In the winter there is a pamphlet focused on maintaining boilers and hot water heaters; in the spring the Department stresses BBQ grill and propane use safety.

The Woodmere Fire Department boasts one of the largest rosters of Jewish members in Nassau County, with approximately 30 active Orthodox Jewish members. Outside of serving the community, the members often have social gatherings such as watching the Superbowl, and often they convene over schwarma at Delicious Dishes, a glatt kosher Israeli restaurant, who is a neighbor of the Department. “Best Chief in town, he’s number one, we wish him the best of luck ,we love him,” expressed owner Benny Roth, and his family Dorit, Oren and Leo .

The Department, which dates back to 1889, is also installing three assistant Chiefs, and department and line officers on Saturday night.