The Setauket Fire Department invited the community to its annual 9/11 ceremony at its memorial park on Nicolls Road in Setauket Sunday evening.
Volunteers from the Setauket and Stony Brook fire departments, below, raised a huge American flag in front of the Nicolls Road firehouse adjacent to the memorial.
Setauket Chief Richard Leute, right center, opened the ceremony that included speakers state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), left center, and Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook).
During the ceremony, Stony Brook and Setauket firefighters along with community members lined up around the memorial pond that contains a piece of steel from the World Trade Center and an artist’s impression of the flag that day. Later, attendees participated in a candle lighting ceremony.
Pass the maple syrup! Join the Setauket Fire Department Auxiliary Department for its annual Pancake Breakfast/Chinese Auction Fundraiser on Sunday, Sept. 18 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Setauket Fire Department’s Station #2, 9 Arrowhead Lane, East Setauket. Tickets: are $10 adults, $8 seniors, $6 children under 10. Toddlers under age 2 are free. [email protected]
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.”
The event kicked off the historical society’s reopening for its museum after being closed to the public due to COVID-19. The Three Village Historical Society will be open for exhibits:
A fire destroyed a structure at a horse complex at 23 Brewster Lane on Strong’s Neck Tuesday.
Flames broke out around 10 a.m., according to Setauket Fire Department Chief Scott Gressin. The SFD received mutual aid in excess of 16 surrounding departments.
The chief said a 19,000 square-feet structure, that was once used as an interior horse-riding arena, had heaving smoke and fire could be seen coming from multiple sides as firefighters arrived on the scene.
Gressin said the first approach was an offensive one; however, considering the fire load inside of the building, the first responders had to take a defensive approach.
There were no horses in the structure as it has not been used as a riding arena in some time. Gressin said horses in a nearby stable were under no threat. Two firefighters with burns were treated and released from the hospital.
Wednesday morning firefighters and investigators were still at the site.
“It continues to be an active fire scene with a hazardous material incident involving buried propane tanks,” Gressin said. “I have multiple agencies working to mitigate the problem.”
He said the SFD is coordinating with the Town of Brookhaven and Suffolk County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services. At this time, he cannot anticipate when the investigation will be completed.
Brookhaven’s Chief Fire Marshal Christopher Mehrman said the origin and cause investigation was concluded Tuesday. He said the reason was human error as an electrical conductor that shouldn’t have been energized was. Two electricians who received electrical shocks were transported to the hospital. Mehrman did not have their present status at press time.
Mehrman said the intensity of the fire caused two 1,000-gallon propane tanks to leak. Even though they are underground, the valving is above. He said HazMat technicians are on the scene to control the flow.
The fire marshal said neighbors are not in any danger because the propane is being burned off which means no gas is accumulating.
Margo Arceri, vice president of the Strong’s Neck Civic Association and a local historian, said the Brewster Lane property was originally owned by Selah Strong, who was a New York State Supreme Court justice in the 1800s. His children sold it to the Rawson publishing family.
“It became known as Blueberry Bay Farm, and they raised and sold Black Angus cows,” Arceri said. “At that point, it was the oldest continuously running farm in Suffolk County.”
She remembered the farm and the cows growing up on Strong’s Neck.
“I recall as a child being chased by the bulls on several occasions when a few of them escaped from time to time,” she said.
Arceri said it eventually became Spy Coast Farm where horses, which were world-class hunters and jumpers, were bred. The name was influenced by the Culper Spy Ring activity that took place in the area during the Revolutionary War, according to Arceri.
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.
A 78-year-old man accidentally drove his four-door sedan straight into the icy waters of a pond off of Hulse Road during the Feb. 1 snowstorm. The driver was quickly rescued when Setauket Fire Department Chief Scott Gressin arrived at the scene at 11:39 a.m., just one minute after receiving a 911 call.
“The man had self-extricated himself from the vehicle,” Gressin said. “I found him on the hood of his car, which was submerged up to where the doors meet the windows.”
The driver was soaking wet, he said, but uninjured. After tossing the man a rope to tie around himself, the chief said the man was safely towed to the pond’s edge with the assistance of other Setauket firemen, who arrived at the scene with floatation devices and water rescue gear.
The accident occurred at Setauket Meadows, a 55-and-over community where the unidentified man lives. After confirming that there were no other passengers in the vehicle, emergency responders took the man to his nearby home, where he changed into dry clothing and refused further medical care.
The chief said that the man was appreciative, but somewhat embarrassed.
“It was a rapid, robust response,” Gressin said. “Fortunately, the department is equipped with specialty ice-and-water rescue apparatus and trained in cold water rescues.”
Setauket Fire Department responds to roughly 3,600 alarms each year. Winter water rescues are rare, Gressin said, but countywide first responders recurrently rescue passengers from sinking vehicles.
An East Setauket home was destroyed by fire Sept. 23.
The Setauket Fire Department responded to a fire on Franklin Avenue in East Setauket Sept. 23 after receiving an emergency call approximately 11:30 a.m. District manager Dave Sterne said the first pumper was on the scene within five minutes where the firefighters found a fully involved fire of a large structure.
Chief Paul Rodier advised the crews to attack the fire from the outside, according to the chief’s office. The fire department received mutual aid from Stony Brook, Port Jefferson, Terryville, St. James and Centereach fire departments as well as Port Jefferson and Stony Brook volunteer ambulance corps.
Sterne said the size of the fire was a rare one.
“The combination of the homeowner waiting a long time to call it in, along with all the combustibles he had stored in his house, led to an extreme amount of fire even before we got there,” Sterne said. “Given our rapid response time, we should have found a situation where a fire was just starting to spread and could have been confined to a smaller area where it had started, but upon arrival all areas of the house and contents were already on fire.”
Sterne said in case of fire or an EMS emergency, residents can call the district’s direct hotline number, 631-941-4441.
“Whether it be a medical emergency or fire emergency, seconds count and the sooner we are notified, the better,” he said.
The fire district manager shared some fire prevention tips. In addition to having working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, people should not use extension cords for permanent use and combustibles should be kept away from heating equipment. Homeowners also shouldn’t keep resetting a circuit breaker if it continuously trips and instead call an electrician. Circuit breakers trip when a faulty condition is recognized including the overheating of wires.
If we are to keep using war terms to describe the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, calling nurses and doctors “soldiers” who are “on the front lines,” whose personal protective equipment are like “tools” or “weapons” in the fight against COVID-19, then the Emergency Medical service members, whether paid or volunteer, truly are the ones who make first contact with the enemy.
Though members of local EMS services said they don’t know exactly how to feel about that terminology. If anything, it’s the unknown of every situation that makes the whole thought stick.
“Every patient is a risk,” said Daniel Ortiz, an EMS member of the Terryville Fire Department. “That’s where I guess they say it’s a war zone, because you don’t know what you’re walking into.”
EMS members from all over the North Shore have experienced a heavy time of stress during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, though as the number of cases seems to have plateaued as New York enters the middle of April, these service members, both paid and volunteer, are still asking people to continue their social distancing, as we’re not out of the woods yet.
The emergency service members said they have been wearing much more gear than normal, including masks, head coverings, face shields and eye protection. Every single call they go on is in this gear, since every case is now treated like a COVID-19 situation, despite what might have been said by the caller on the phone.
“We trained for this, and I can honestly say this is the first time in 10 years that I’ve seen anybody suit up other than your annual refresher,” said Terryville member of the EMS squad Andrew Hoyt.
While the Terryville Fire District only covers about eight square miles, the Commack Volunteer Ambulance Corps. covers nearly 15 square miles, dipping into both the Huntington and Smithtown townships.
Joseph Vollers, the 3rd assistant chief of the Commack corps., said they have been helping neighboring districts with their call volumes, including Brentwood, which has been a particularly large hotspot for coronavirus cases. With that, they have gone from one to two full crews with a driver and EMT available at all times. Terryville has effectively done the same, moving from one to two ambulances available.
“It’s a pretty big area we have to cover,” Vollers said.
Other fire districts increased the load and numbers of EMTs and paramedics on a shift. The extra hard part has been decontamination, as now after every call both the people on the truck and the truck itself have to be cleaned from top to bottom.
If the job was stressful before, the understanding that one might be potentially taking the virus home with them after each stress only adds to the level of concern. Most agreed they had never seen anything at this scale. While EMS members knew they had to be aware of contractible diseases, such as tuberculosis, flu, scabies or even bed bugs, the pandemic levels of how far the virus has spread, every single person is approached as if they have SARS-CoV-2.
David Sterne, the Setauket Fire District Manager, said there were five cases of COVID-19 in the department, with more staying home with suspected cases. Though as of now, four of those cases have returned to work. In Terryville, they’ve had two cases out of the 15 paid paramedic staff and 25 volunteer EMTs.
“It’s stressful for a lot of reasons,” Sterne said. “We’re in their environment where there could be infectious viral loads. If a patient is sick, it could be 10 or 15 minutes to take them to the hospital … everyone fears bringing it home to their families and loved ones.”
Sterne added the district has had to make do with a lack of certain items, such as the coveted N95 masks for their medical personnel. New policy has been these masks, which are normally only supposed to be used once and then thrown away, have been used multiple times. Setauket FD had been concerned at several points with limited supplies, but with support from Suffolk County, Sterne said they are now in a relatively good spot.
But support for the fire departments are coming from all corners and some unexpected places. On Wednesday, April 15, retired FDNY Deputy Chief Joe DiBernardo, who is president of the Joseph P. DiBernardo Memorial Foundation, worked with y Fire Hooks Unlimited, a company that manufactures tools and supplies for firefighters and police, to deliver 100 N95 masks to the Miller Place Fire Department and 200 to the Setauket Fire Department.
The memorial foundation is for DiBernardo’s son, Joe DiBernardo, who was injured in the line of duty during a tenement fire in 2005. He died as a result from his injuries in 2011. The foundation works to train and equip firefighters in need.
Now the districts have settled into the routine and have seen a small improvement in the number of calls from mid-to-late March, where the number of coronavirus deaths started to rise with startling speed.
With suspected coronavirus patients, it wasn’t so much the usual dealing with people having injuries or back and abdominal pains, it was instead situations where a person might desperately need oxygen. While the numbers of people with heart attacks and other sudden traumas have stayed the same, EMT staff said people calling for respiratory issues tripled in the month of March.
Other, more usual calls of non-life threatening injuries dropped off significantly. EMTs said this was largely because people did not want to go to the hospital where the possibility of viral infection was that much higher.
“I think there’s people afraid to go to the hospital,” said Gina Brett, the Terryville EMS coordinator. “They say, ‘I don’t want to go to the hospital for knee pain, because I might get very sick at the hospital.’”
District officials said that despite the load, they’ve managed.
“Overall it hasn’t been exceedingly stressful where we can’t function,” Vollers said. “Our crews have been amazing at overcoming all stresses, with 2, 3, 4 calls back-to-back, they’ve done a great job.”
Despite the stress, the service members agreed their communities have been excellent in their care and even compassion. The Commack Fire Department, for example, recently held a drive where community members donated over 500 items, both nonperishable food and medical supplies.
Otherwise, EMTs said the best thing for people to do is continue social distancing to help flatten the curve. Another suggestion is after calling 911, people should meet the EMTs and paramedics outside the home in order to best reduce first responders’ interaction with anything that may be contaminated.
“It is an incredibly long time to have that level of awareness and vigilance,” said paramedic Dr. Lauren Moloney, an associate medical director for the Stony Brook University paramedic program. “God knows how long it’s going to go on for. That’s the hardest thing — trying to find what is your date you’re trying to get through.”
This article was amended April 16 to amend the nature of Fire Hooks Unlimited’s operations.
This article was amended April 17 to correct the name of the Commack volunteer ambulance corps.
Three Village residents, business owners and community leaders are finding ways to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Stony Brook University was chosen by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) for a drive-through testing center for the virus, along with an external facility for extra beds at the campus, other help has been provided in the area.
The Three Village Civic Association has been emailing members with any updates it receives to ensure residents are informed. In a March 23 email to members, civic association President Jonathan Kornreich wrote of “countless acts of kindness and compassion, large and small” in the community.
Among those acts have been the Della Pietra family creating a community challenge to raise $500,000 for Stony Brook University Hospital. According to SBU’s website, the family is pledging a $250,000 dollar-for-dollar match. The funds raised will go toward critical supplies and treatments at the hospital. At press time, the challenge had nearly 650 supporters donating more than $330,000.
Kornreich said in the email he also noticed residents doing good things in small ways.
“Even in supermarkets I’ve seen people sharing and taking a moment to show some kindness to stressed-out neighbors,” he said.
The civic association also announced that the Three Village Central School District consolidated its food pantries into one location at the North Country Administration Center in Stony Brook. Those who need to access the pantry, or would like to donate, can call Anita Garcia at 631-730-4010. As always, nonperishables and toiletries will be accepted, and gift cards for supermarkets and gas stations are also needed. Civic association volunteers picked up bags of donated items for the food pantry March 25 from residents and have pledged to do so as long as necessary.
Extra steps to help out SFD
The Long Island Chinese American Association donated 120 KN95 masks to the Setauket Fire District last week.
In a March 16 Facebook message, the fire department asked residents to let dispatchers know if there is anyone in their home who is under quarantine when calling to report a house fire. The information will allow responders to ensure they have the proper protective equipment.
Dave Sterne, district manager of the Setauket Fire District, said first responders are in the same position as the health care industry when it comes to the shortage of personal protective equipment.
“We are in unprecedented times with the way we are using and reusing all types of PPE and any donations we receive are very much appreciated,” he said.
Sterne said the district was grateful for the Long Island Chinese American Association’s donation as well as some masks from resident Mark Andrews.
Emma Clark library stays connected with community
While Emma S. Clark Memorial Library is closed until further notice due the ongoing pandemic, it still has numerous services to offer the community. The library announced in a press release Monday it will offer remote technology help for patrons who need to set up communication options like FaceTime, Zoom and Google Hangouts. They can also help remotely with office applications, web browsers, Roku and Fire Stick devices and with general support with mobile devices, phones, tablets and laptops.
Cardholders can send an email to [email protected] and include their library barcode number and phone number.A library employee will call back to schedule one-on-one telephone help.
For those who don’t have a library card, the library is also providing temporary digital cards that will allow them to access some of Emma Clark’s online resources including OverDrive and Hoopla for eBooks, eAudiobooks, movies and music. Also, temporary digital cardholders will be able to access databases and the classes in Learning Express. People can go to www.emmaclark.org and find “Get a Library Card” at the bottom of the page to sign up.
Library director, Ted Gutmann, said in an email it’s important for the library to stay in touch with the community.
“A big part of what the library does at all time is connect people with information, with resources, with help, with each other,” he said. “Our virtual time with a tech service is just one example of how the library is reaching out to the community in this period of social distancing, when it’s so easy to feel disconnected and unsure about things.We’re asking our patrons to come to us like they always have. It may not be face-to-face, but it’s still person-to-person.”
The director added when residents use the library’s Time with a Tech service they will be speaking with the library’s technology librarian or IT manager, or “real people, real voices — not some anonymous ‘someone will get back to you.’ I think this is reassuring, and I hope many of our patrons will feel that way too.”
Businesses adapt to new climate
Many business owners are coming up with new ideas in order to stay open. One option many dance schools and martial arts studios have taken is creating videos and making them available online for their students.
Nick Panebianco from Alchemy Martial Arts and Fitness of East Setauket last week spent two days working practically nonstop creating 40 videos to put on his school’s website. He said it was something he was thinking about for a couple of months but didn’t get a chance to do, and he knew now was the time to create the online lessons.
The studio owner said during the pandemic he knows children will be spending more time with their families. In the videos, he shows parents how to use everyday items such as oven mitts and pillows to help with a student’s practice.
“I basically teach the parents how to teach the kids,” he said.
Panebianco added that he goes over drills that he normally does in classes and points out ways to adapt to different body types. At press time, he already had 50 subscribers made up of current and former students. He has extended the invitation to watch the videos to community members too. The service is free and can be accessed by going to the studio’s website and signing up.
“It’s pretty cool so far,” he said. “People are sending me videos of their kids working with them. I’m very excited right now. I want to keep adding to it.”
With students currently out of class, he said he feels it’s important to keep them active instead of looking at their mobile devices all day, adding that the videos can also be helpful in general for those who can’t afford or don’t have time to do a full class at the martial arts studio.
As for the Three Village community, the Port Jefferson Station resident said he’s seen many businesses coming up with creative ideas.
“People are adapting fast,” he said. “It’s pretty impressive.”
Lisa Cusumano, co-owner and general manager of Pentimento restaurant in Stony Brook Village Center said even though the restaurant had to lay off most of its staff, they are still providing curbside pickup and delivery to those who are homebound.
Cusumano said they are also offering 50 percent off meals for all hospital and EMT workers in the Three Village area who show an ID as they realize these community members are on the front lines fighting the pandemic.
“We’re trying to do anything to help,”
Cusumano said when she first heard of the coronavirus she bought more cleaning supplies than usual, and the staff cleaned more regularly than average starting weeks ago, even wiping menus after each use.
She said the restaurant, which has been in business for 26 years, is taking it day by day and as long as they have the ability to open they will.
“As long as we have products and people working, we’ll take care of the community as best as we can,” Cusumano said.
We would love to hear about what readers are seeing in our community. Let us know about residents or business owners who are dealing with COVID-19 pandemic in innovative ways or helping out their neighbors by emailing [email protected]
Changes are coming to the Setauket Fire District board.
On Dec. 10, insurance agent and volunteer firefighter Billy Williams unseated incumbent Kevin Yoos for the commissioner seat, 479-219.
During his campaign, Williams addressed financial matters and the need to keep the department volunteer based. The newly elected fire commissioner and others have said morale in the department has dipped after last year’s decision to change paid fire coordinators to paid firefighter positions. Last year the district approved three salaried firefighters, along with one more this year.
Williams said it felt all the hard work of campaigning was worth it when he saw the voter turnout. Involved in the Kiwanis Club and the local chamber of commerce, he added he felt many voted who didn’t vote in the past.
He said working on the morale in the department is at the forefront of his mind.
“It had a big bump yesterday,” he said. “I got a 150 to 200 texts from department members and other people.”
Williams said once he takes his seat, he’ll look at everything, especially when it comes to financial matters, and “do what’s right by the taxpayer.”
The new commissioner will take his seat Jan. 1, 2020, and will serve a five-year term.