Edward Stauffer was helping keep New York City safe from fires three years before the Pearl Harbor attack.
Stauffer, believed to be the oldest living FDNY veteran — he turns 102 on Oct. 16 — was honored Friday with an early birthday party at the Long Island nursing home where he lives.
An official from the Uniformed Firefighters Association presented Stauffer with a plaque and other gifts as he was surrounded by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Stauffer, who suffers from dementia, was bashful about the fuss being made over him, but his family glowed with pride as they spoke about the patriarch of their family.
“Public service is something I always thought of going into and my grandfather was definitely an inspiration,” said his grandson Robert Stauffer, an NYPD retiree. “He’s very low-key, very old school. He doesn’t look to glorify himself. We’d have more good stories to tell if he was, but that’s just not him.”
Firefighters’ union official Matthew Desjardin said it is important for current members of the FDNY to pay tribute to their predecessors. “The fire department considers their senior guys their prized possession,” he said.
Stauffer spent his 36-year career stationed at various firehouses in Queens. He joined the department in 1938 and retired in 1974. He fought hundreds of fires during his career, but did not recall any particularly memorable blaze.
“He’s the head of our family. The mentor, our rock,” said granddaughter Stephanie Loughrane.