Setauket Fire Department dedicates badge number 729 to honor Culper Spy Ring
Members of the Setauket Fire Department stopped by the Three Village Historical Society’s History Center on North Country Road Nov. 6 for a special presentation.
The department dedicated badge number 729. The number is associated with the Culper Spy Ring, and the badge is now mounted on a plaque and displayed in the center. The number was assigned by Benjamin Tallmadge, the organizer and leader of the local Revolutionary War spies, to signify Setauket in coded messages.
Historical society board members as well as state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and Town of Brookhaven Councilman Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) were also on hand.
Englebright said the awareness of the spy ring, which he called “part of our American fabric,” is growing thanks to the historical society, and he thanked the fire department for helping to spread the word about the Setauket spies for future generations.
Kornreich said the history “is very much alive in our everyday lives,” given examples of local residents who can trace their roots back to Revolutionary times, including the Strongs who can trace their family history back to Anna Strong, a member of the ring.
“That history still lives within the blood of our community,” Kornreich said. “I think that what we’re all here today to recognize is something deeper and much less obvious, which is a spirit and a tradition that exists in Setauket of people who when the time came and the call came stepped up to answer and face danger.”
He added just as the spies faced danger, so do the firefighters who “rush into the flames to make sure we get out.”
Fire Chief Scott Gressin thanked Assistant Chief Charles Regulinski for helping to see the project through. Regulinski read part of the message on the plaque for those in attendance. A replica of the plaque will also hang within the fire department. After a minimum of a year of probation and service, members receive a badge.
Gressin said when he joined the department in 2002, he became aware of the connection between the “729” symbol, which appears on a few of the Setauket Fire Department trucks based out of the department’s headquarters and the spy ring.
“As we moved forward and realized we were going to approach badge 729, we recognized the symbolic connection,” he said. “That number sat on our trucks, and one of our past chiefs had the forethought to set aside that number and not issue it to a member but to reserve it for a ceremony such as this.”