Term: 1975 - 1976
Honoring a legend
A signal 5-5-5-5 has been transmitted, and it is with regret that the department announces the death of Ex-Chief Fred Colley. Chief Colley gave decades of selfless service as as our department Santa Claus and Chief of Dept 1945 and 1975.
Fred was only 6 months old when his Parents moved into the neighborhood in 1942. So he’s still considered a newcomer by some. They moved into a house on Gerritsen Avenue when rent was $27 a month. At the age of 14,in 1956, he moved into his Eaton Ct home which went for a mere $22,500. This is where he married his beautiful wife, Barbara, and raised 5 beautiful children.
In 1960, at 19 years old, after a storm brought down trees and power lines, he found himself assisting the Gerritsen Beach Fire Department and shortly after decided to sign up under the leadership of Chief Hodgetts.
In 1961, Fred Became the department Santa and has continued that tradition ALMOST EVERY YEAR, except for the few times HE decided to take a vacation on us. Fred took being Santa very seriously! He had his own suit early on and would study FRONT TO BACK the toys r us catalog so he knew exactly in detail what each child was talking about. ON TOP OF THAT, he knew EXACTLY who they were. Being the custodian at PS 277 for 20+ years, he knew each one of their names. Imagine the excitement, being that young coming into the hall and having “Santa” call them out by name.
His commitment to the community did not stop there. His service record speaks for itself.
Most Notably, in November of 1962, Fred along with a week old Searchlight Truck, responded to Idlewild Airport, now known as JFK, for a DC7 Jet Crash bringing all of the departments firefighting foam to the point where there was almost no room for them to fit. In 1968, fred was on the roof at the infamous Bohack Supermarket Fire on Gerritsen Ave where even FDNY had to bring in their Super Pumper. And then there was the time he was brought up on department charges when he decided to play chicken in his Buick Riviera with Rescue 2 on Gerritsen Avenue.
By 1968 he made Lieutenant, 1969 – Captain, by 1973 he became 2nd Asst Chief. Then in 1974 he ran for the position of Chief of Department with the slogan are you one of Demellos Fellows or Collies Vollies.
He stayed in the position until 1976 and in 1978 he resigned. Even though he resigned, Fred stayed on as the Department Santa Claus for our yearly thanksgiving Ragamuffin Parade. Chief Colley served 56 years as Santa!
We at the Gerrittsen Beach Fire Department are deeply saddened by the loss of Chief Colley. Our hearts go out to the Colley Family during this trying time. Chief We will take it from here & remember WE ARE ALL COLLEYS VOLLIES.