The Huntington Fire Company No. 3’s memorial brick garden, now complete, offers what fire officials call a perfect dedication to the community’s firefighters — past, present and future.

Within the past couple weeks, the landscaping has been finished and memorial bricks — purchases of which were instrumental in funding this project — have been laid in place, but Huntington Fire Company Capt. Donald Zak said bricks remain on sale on those who wish to honor family or friends.

“This has come out even better than we thought,” said Zak about the memorial garden, creation of which was largely due to volunteer efforts by the department’s members.

A Huntington Fire Company No. 3 memorial brick garden dedication ceremony is planned Sunday, Aug. 18, at 10 a.m. at the fire house, 44 Church Street. An open house, with food and refreshments, will be held in the firehouse after the flags are raised on the new poles.

“This has gone so well,” said Huntington Fire Company President Bob Araujo, a 44-year company veteran. “The contractors and people in the community have come out and lent a hand as well as our members. Our members have done a yeoman’s job. And the result is outstanding, better than we even anticipated.”

With the bricks, all local fire companies are represented, with one section dedicated to past captains, and the arch in front of the flagpoles specifically to honor deceased members. In front of the large stone, which is surrounded by plantings tended to by the Olde Ripton Garden Club, is a brick honoring Mayor Mark Lauretti and his support of the company’s efforts.

“In every piece, a lot of blood, sweat and tears from the members was needed to put this together. It was a year and a half of hard, hard work,” said Araujo. “It is quite humbling to know you helped someone preserve a special memory.”

Araujo said members dug footings, placed blocks and bricks, leveled out areas, prepared lighting, dug holes for the flagpoles, and aided in placing the flagpoles, among numerous other necessary jobs to bring this new welcoming entranceway to Huntington Center to life.

The garden was organized as a fundraiser for the company’s 100th anniversary. The Huntington Fire Department was formed in 1919 in the Town of Huntington, according to Araujo, by area farmers that felt the need to protect the community.

This 100th anniversary celebration will culminate on Sept. 14 and 15, as Shelton plays host to the 136th annual Connecticut State Firefighters Association convention and parade. The event, hosted by different departments throughout the state each year, will bring dozens of departments to the community.

The delegates convention will begin at 9 a.m. on Sept. 14 at Shelton Intermediate School, followed by the presidents’ reception from noon to 2 p.m. at White Hills Fire Co. 5. The parade will be on Sept. 15. The parade will commence at noon at Huntington Green and end on Research Drive at the BIC Corp. Music and food will be part of a celebration at the parade’s end in the BIC lot

“We are so proud to be able to host this event this year,” said Zak, a veteran of 46 years with the Huntington Fire Company.

The Huntington Fire Co. #3, itself, has 80 active members, and there are some 220 with the four companies in the city. But Zak stressed that the departments throughout Shelton are always seeking more volunteers.

The memorial garden and the 100th anniversary had both Zak and Araujo remembering past events — such as the March 1, 1975, explosion and fire at the Sponge Rubber Products plant in downtown Shelton, later determined to be arson — as well as the major advances over the decades from the company’s humble beginnings.

Araujo says the improvements in equipment stand out.

“We’ve gone from a simple truck that pumps water to air packs, different hose systems,” said Araujo. “Every year improvements are made to protect the firefighter, so every firefighter goes home every day the same way if not better than they came in.”

“Yes, the apparatus is always getting bigger, with better design,” added Zak, “but the biggest difference I see is the camaraderie among the membership, not only with individual companies, but with our brothers with other companies in the rest of the town.”

Bricks for the memorial can be ordered online at polar-engraving.com/huntingtonfirecompany. A 4” x 8” brick with engraved text is $100 and $110 with clip art of logos.

An 8” x 8” brick option is available for $175-$185. Orders can be placed directly on the engraving site. To learn more about the project or about Huntington Fire Company No. 3, visit huntingtonfireco3.com.

“I’m very proud to be a member here,” said Araujo. “My firm belief is if you can’t give back to your community, you cannot ask your community for anything. Every member of the community should do something for your community.”

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com