On Sunday, Nov. 21, the Town of Brookhaven teamed up with the Red Knights Motorcycle Club NY Chapter 26 for its annual “Teddy Bear Run.”
Each year, the club holds the event to collect donations of new Teddy Bears for thousands of needy children through the Town of Brookhaven Youth Bureau INTERFACE program.
Bikers from across the Island then ride together from the North to South shores for a participation fee and toy donation.
Stuffed animals of all shapes and sizes were donated at the Terryville Fire Department Headquarters in Port Jefferson Station where hundreds of riders met before heading to their final stop — Painter’s restaurant in Brookhaven.
“I want to thank the Red Knights Motorcycle Club for their generosity and continued support of this program,” said Supervisor Ed Romaine (R). “These contributions will make it possible for so many children in need to experience the joy of opening a gift this holiday season.”
The Red Knights are an international firefighters motorcycle club and have been co-sponsoring the Teddy Bear run for nearly two decades.
“These guys, their day job is being heroes,” said Councilman Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook). “They spend their off-time getting involved in good causes like this and we really appreciate these guys so much.”
Community members, local legislators and Scouts joined Setauket firefighters to honor those lost on September 11 with a candlelight vigil on the night of the 20th anniversary of the tragic event.
The vigil took place at the district’s 9/11 Memorial Park, adjacent to the firehouse located at 394 Nicolls Road in Stony Brook. Attendees gathered in the park that includes a pond and waterfall. Three pieces of steel from the World Trade Center in the park are featured and were obtained by Setauket Fire Department worker James Hubbard, who worked at the cleanup site.
The 9/11 Memorial Park also includes two trees planted in 2016 that were seeded from the 9/11 survivor tree located at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center and a stone monument inscribed with the names of those lost on 9/11.
Pictured clockwise from above, three wreaths placed at the memorial during the ceremony; Setauket FD member Corey Gallagher and his son; the Stony Brook Fire Department assisted Setauket FD in raising the flag in front of the Nicolls Road station for the 9/11 Ceremony; fire department members entering the 9/11 memorial site; members wore masks due to the closeness during the ceremony; and Asst. Chief Charles Regulinski, Captain Justin Kinney and Chief Scott Gressin attended the ceremony.
The Miller Place Fire Department reported battling a blaze on Imperial Drive Tuesday, Nov. 26.
The fire department reported to its Facebook they were alerted to the fire just before 2 p.m., and First Assistant Chief Joseph McCrain Sr. transmitted a working fire and requested additional resources to the scene.
Firefighters battled the flames that had crawled up the exterior wall to the rear of the home. the department said originated from the basement. Nobody was injured, they said. Interior members of the department located a family cat that was alive an unharmed inside the house.
Mutual aid came from Mount Sinai, Sound Beach, Rocky Point, Middle Island, Coram and Terryville fire departments. The trucks were returned to service around 3:30 p.m.
Firefighters from all over Suffolk County, as well as New York City, took to the courts at a special volleyball tournament at the Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook July 25. The second annual tournament at the hotel was organized to raise funds for the Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo Memorial Foundation.
The foundation is named after Joseph P. DiBernardo Jr., who was a volunteer with the Setauket Fire Department and one of three New York City Fire Department firefighters injured during a tenement fire in the Bronx in 2005. In 2011, DiBernardo died from the injuries he sustained in the fire, and in 2013, the DiBernardo family, members of the Setauket Fire Department and Jeff Cool, who DiBernardo helped saved during the fire, established the foundation.
On July 25 firefighters from Farmingville, Centereach, Mount Sinai, Coram, Terryville, Setauket, Selden and FDNY Ladder 120, along with a team from Gold Coast Bank including CEO and Chairman John Tsunis, competed. At the end of the matches, the Farmingville firefighters were the champions and donated their $1,000 winnings back to the foundation.
It wasn’t quite Santa’s sleigh, but it was large, red and carried presents, so an ambulance was good enough for the Selden Fire Department, which took over Santa’s duties last week and stuffed 100 shoeboxes with gifts for poor young children all over the world.
“Most of these boxes are going to go to kids who never even get a gift,” Selden Fire Department Treasurer Vincent Ammirati said. “This is something that will put a smile on a face, and this is the fire department — everything we do here is for other people. All we do is try put a smile on people’s faces.”
The shoeboxes were collected as part of Operation Christmas Child, a function of the evangelical Christian humanitarian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse. The organization takes the shoeboxes from drop-off points in local churches before sending them to distribution centers that will ship them to poor communities in Africa, South America, Asia and others. The shoeboxes are labeled by age and gender, and usually contain toys like inflatable soccer balls or stuffed animals, but mostly they contain hygiene products like soap and toothbrushes along with school supplies like books and pencils.
All seven companies within the Selden Fire Department helped contribute to the stack, with some companies acting as a group and other members of the fire department contributing indipendently.
Volunteer firefighter and Operation Christmas Child Long Island Coordinator Danielle McCarthy headed the fire department’s collection drive. She said she got the idea of filling an ambulance full of shoeboxes from watching the Los Angeles Police Department and how a funeral home had pulled in with a hearse full of shoe boxes.
McCarthy has been involved with Operation Christmas Child for more than a decade, first packing boxes before becoming a local packing leader, and then area coordinator. In 2012 McCarthy travelled to Uganda to help hand out shoeboxes.
“As we put shoe boxes into their hands and they opened up those boxes I saw their delight,” she said. “To look at them having physical needs met, to be able to see the joy that came to them from these simple things like school supplies and toys and that sort of thing, that impacted me. But what really impacted me even more, and what keeps me packing shoeboxes, were all the kids standing outside the place who didn’t get shoeboxes because there wasn’t enough to give to everybody.”
Every box also comes with a picture book called “The Greatest Gift,” put inside after each is packed. The book depicts a number of biblical stories told in that country’s native language. There was a $9 fee for every package, which pays for both the book and shipping costs. The fire department pulled together $900 to go toward this cost.
“Every one of these shoeboxes to us is not just a gift that we’re giving to a child, but around Christmas time Jesus is a gift we try to give, too,” said Victor Rossomano, an Operation Christmas Child Suffolk County-area coordinator. “It’s in their language and their culture. We try to keep it within their culture; we try not to send America to them, we want them to be who they are.”
Ammirati helped McCarthy drive the shoeboxes to the drop-off point at the Grace Gospel Church in Patchogue. He said he plans on using his officer status with the Suffolk County Volunteer Fireman’s Association to try and spread the idea out to all the different fire departments in the county.
“It’s a great way to show our community presence with the fire department and also for Operation Christmas Child,” McCarthy said. “It’s taken a few years to get this rolling, but when we challenged the fire department to fill the ambulance, as you can see, the guys stepped up.”
The 100 boxes kicked off national collection week, which ran from Nov. 13 to 20. In 2009, Suffolk County gathered 7,100 boxes, but the number has grown. The group is hoping to have 20,000 boxes packed this year
Fire departments, town and village governments, and schools all participated in memorial events to commemorate the lives lost during Sept. 11, 2001. Residents came to show support, as well as help read off the names of those who perished, lay wreaths and take a moment to honor the American lives lost, and all the first responders and civilians who helped save lives at Ground Zero.
Stop drop and enroll in Dix Hills’ first-ever junior fire academy, a one-week summer program designed to introduce children between the ages of 12 and 14 to the volunteer fire service.
Commissioner Todd Cohen said the program will give kids an understanding of how the fire department works and what it means to be a volunteer there.
“Our academy will be tailored for the community,” he said in a statement. “We’re working hard to not only provide the kids with valuable knowledge and hands-on skills, but also to give them a fun week. This program gives youngsters a unique set of skills. There’s nothing else like it on Long Island — it’s truly one of a kind.”
Kids who attend the academy will learn fire safety, CPR, first aid, leadership and respect, as well as receive a Heartsaver certification card from the American Heart Association. There will also be limited hands-on training for hose-handling and rescue techniques. Kids will be taken on field trips to the Yaphank Fire Academy, the Suffolk County EMS call center, the Islip airport fire rescue department and more. Firefighters from the Dix Hills Fire Department will run the program.
Councilwoman Susan Berland (D), a Dix Hills resident, said she was excited to partner the town parks department with the fire department to launch the program.
“It’s a great opportunity for kids to learn all they can about the department,” she said. “It is our hope that this program will inspire students to join the fire department and instill in them a sense of volunteerism and responsibility. It promises to be a fun and rewarding experience for all involved. This is the first of its kind on Long Island.”
According to a press release, the idea began 15 years ago at the Cold Spring Fire Department in Putnam County. The academy grew immensely popular and, as a result, has been replicated throughout the country. Cohen and Todd Baker, a Dix Hills firefighter, are working with the originators of Cold Spring’s program to successfully duplicate it in Dix Hills.
The academy runs from Aug. 15 to 19, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Dix Hills Fire Department Headquarters at 115 East Deer Park Road. Registration opens on June 3.
Firefighters worked to free a driver trapped in the wreckage of a Dodge Neon at Advanced Auto Care, on East Jericho Turnpike and Alpine Way in Huntington Station.
Huntington Manor Fire Department responded to the scene on Sunday night, at about 11:15 p.m., and used heavy rescue extrication tools to remove the doors and free the driver from in between two parked vehicles that the driver had crashed into.
About 30 Huntington Manor firefighters were on the scene with three heavy rescue trucks and a fire engine, under the command of Chief Frank McQuade and Assistant Chiefs Mike DePasquale and Jon Hoffmann. The Huntington Community First Aid Squad transported the driver to Huntington Hospital.
Five Huntington area fire departments worked together on Wednesday night to fight a fire that caused extensive damage to a home in Lloyd Harbor.
The Huntington Fire Department responded to a call at 8 p.m. for a residential structure fire on Seacrest Drive in the Lloyd Neck neighborhood of Lloyd Harbor that involved the house’s attached garage and second floor. The Halesite, Cold Spring Harbor, Huntington Manor, Centerport and Greenlawn fire departments assisted the Huntington department About 85 firefighters used ten trucks to get the fire under control in two hours, under the command of Chief Jesse Cukro, supported by Assistant Chiefs Rob Conroy, Brian Keane and Scott Dodge.
Firefighters were able to stop the blaze and contain the damage to the center portion of the home. No residents were home at the time of the fire, and there were no injuries reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Lloyd Harbor Police Department and Suffolk Police Arson Squad.
A fire tore through Malkmes Florists in Port Jefferson Station on Friday the 13th, destroying the building but not the family business that has been passed down for generations.
Family heirlooms, flower arrangements, antique furniture — all burned to ashes that morning.
“There’s nothing left,” Lisa Malkmes, one of the owners, said about the property damage in a phone interview Tuesday. “We lost the entire building and all of our computers. Everything’s gone.”
Dennis Whittam, a spokesman for the Terryville Fire Department, said firefighters received a notification that morning of a “fully involved structure fire” across Route 112 from the firehouse, at the longtime neighborhood business at the end of Oakland Avenue.
A Port Jefferson Fire Department engine was the first truck on the scene and started to attack the flames on the exterior, Whittam said, as Terryville’s ladder truck and other engines set up hand lines and master streams under command of Chief Richard McCarren and Assistant Chief Tom Young. The Selden, Mount Sinai and Coram fire departments also offered assistance.
The fire was out by about noon, Malkmes said, and then the florists quickly had to put together flowers for a wedding happening that afternoon, after the bride’s original flowers burned in the blaze. Everything was finished on time, she said, “because of my employees. They opened their home and we were able to get flowers in quick enough.”
She added that the business put flowers together for two weddings and two funerals over the weekend as well.
Malkmes Florists & Greenhouses has been in operation for decades, and was previously run by longtime community member Harold Malkmes, who died in 2011. Malkmes was a 17-term Brookhaven Town highway superintendent who grew up in Port Jefferson Station and studied horticulture in college before taking the helm at the business, which had been in the family since the 19th century. He passed the reins of the shop to one of his sons, Michael, a Miller Place resident who runs the business with wife Lisa.
The Malkmes name is also familiar to town residents who have visited the community man’s other namesake, the Harold H. Malkmes Wildlife Education and Ecology Center in Holtsville.
Lisa Malkmes said the florists are still open for business. They are working on phone orders and will be putting up a temporary structure soon, with the eventual goal of reconstructing the business.
This is not the first time the family has had to rebuild.
According to Michael Malkmes, who is also a heavy equipment operator in the town highway department, the business dates back to the 1800s, when it was based in Medford. But a fire tore through that original building, destroying it.
“My grandfather decided to rebuild up here on the North Shore,” Malkmes said Tuesday, and a new shop opened at the end of Oakland Avenue in 1912 called Belle Croft Greenhouses, in honor of a historic name for the neighborhood. That became Malkmes Florists in the 1970s under the ownership of Harold Malkmes.
There were still historical and familial tributes around the shop and property when the fire caught: a picture of Harold playing tennis, a sign from when the man ran for highway superintendent, an aerial photo of the shop from the 1930s, family heirlooms like an antique vanity and curio cabinet, and Harold’s service medal from his time in the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II, as a tail gunner on a B-25 bomber in Italy.
“There’s a lot of tears,” Michael Malkmes said. “We’ve been there for eons so it’s kind of a shame.”
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
“The building was built in 1912, so the wood was probably a little dry — that’s why it cooked the way it did,” he said. “Once [the fire] punched through the roof, it was just like a chimney.”
But just as before, the family florists plan to rise from the ashes.
“We’re definitely going to rebuild,” he said. “Our customers have been coming there for years.”