Smithtown’s streets have a little bit more valor, thanks to a recent dedication in honor of two firefighters who served the North Shore and the state.
Ex-Captain Richard Weisse Sr., a 42-year member of the St. James Fire Department, was honored on Nov. 1 with the renaming of Fifth Street in St. James to Richard D. Weisse. The ceremony took place with family and friends, Town of Smithtown Councilmen Bob Creighton (R) and Ed Wehrheim (R), and Town Clerk Vincent Puleo. Weisse served as a member of various response groups, including the St. James F.D., the Fire/Rescue/Ambulance Company, Engine Company One and more as a third-generation fireman. His two children have continued the tradition.
On the morning of Nov. 15, 2014, he was conducting a food drive for a local pantry with junior fire department members when he was summoned for an alarm at the local high school. Subsequently, after adjudication of the alarm and completion of the food drive, he collapsed. The St James F.D. was summoned, members initiated lifesaving efforts and then transported him to Stony Brook University Hospital. Lengthy resuscitative efforts at the hospital were performed, but Weisse passed away.
Ex-Chief Ross Huffer, who was a 48-year member of the Nesconset Fire Department, was also honored with the renaming of Mildred Court in Nesconset to Ross E. Huffer. The ceremony took place with Smithtown officials, family and friends, and with members of the department. He was the Nesconset chief of department from 1982-84. He received the Medal of Valor for saving a resident from a house fire in December, 1981. He also received the Smithtown Fire Chiefs Council’s Unit Citation in 1992 and 1994.
Huffer was directly responsible for restoring the department’s 1937 American LaFrance pumper. His restoration of the pumper resulted in the department winning numerous awards. He died from an apparent heart attack when he returned from an alarm.
Huffer’s name was added to the New York State Fallen Firefighters Memorial at the Empire State Plaza in downtown Albany.