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Community Ambulance Company,  July 1958



Sayville Fire (Truck) House, 1889-1938



West Sayville Fire (Truck) House, 1892-1931


Sayville Fire Department



West Sayville Fire Department

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Public Safety: Community Ambulance Company


1950s, First Headquarters & Ambulances



1972, New Building, same site


1982, First Responder Car



1985, New Headquarters


Respondents at the scene



Picking up a patient at MacArthur


2001, MCI Response Support Unit



2013, One of five current ambulances


Community Ambulance Company, 146 Railroad Avenue:    In the early half of the 20th Century, ambulance service in the Sayville area was very limited. Latterly, two hospitals, Southside in Bay Shore and Mather in Port Jefferson, had their own contracted companies but they were not always available and arrival could be seriously delayed.  In June 1931, R.M. Harry Isaacson, local undertaker, initiated his own service and then in April 1938 bought a new Meteor Cadillac Ambulance.  However, in May 1940 he sold that to Suffolk County for use at the County Home and discontinued the activity, leaving no option other than the two Hospitals. (The Patchogue Fire Department also had an ambulance but its use was restricted to Patchogue Village.).Following a two-hour delay in the arrival of hospital ambulance at a fatal accident in the summer of 1950, the attending Doctor, Joseph J. McCoy, wrote a letter to Joe Jahn, then editor of the Suffolk County News, citing the need for a voluntary "community rescue squad".  The News sponsored a fund-raising campaign and the five local communities (Sayville, West Sayville, Bohemia, Bayport and Oakdale) responded; notably, members of  their four attending fire departments canvassed house-to-house, raising $ 11,000  by the time the Community Ambulance Company was organized and incorporated in October. The Company bought a second-hand Cadillac ambulance (containing two stetchers and two bunks) for $ 7,263 which  arrived on December 27, 1950;  that same afternoon, it received its first call.   Initially, it was housed at the Sayville Fire House where it remained until May 22nd, 1956.  Crowded conditions at the Fire House had indicated that the CAC needed a new home and, in late 1955, the Suffolk County News sponsored another Fund Raiser to raise $ 5,000 with which the CAC built its own Headquarters and garage on Town land at the rear of the Sayville Court House. In 1958, it ordered another Cadillac ambulance for $ 11,000 to replace the original. However, after its receipt in early May, a decision was made to keep the old one to provide more efficient service so the original was refurbished and painted white and red to match the new one (both are shown above); both were also equipped with two-way police radios.  The plan was to use the old one for routine transportation calls and retain the new one for "emergencies". By its tenth anniversary, CAC had 100 members and transported about 3,600 patients; CAC estimated that, without the free service, the cost to area patients would have been about $ 175,000.By 1972, it had  outgrown its original garage and a new, larger headquarters was constructed on the same site. In 1982, the Company added its First Responder Car, which permitted the Company's Chief or Assistant Chiefs to more rapidly reach  the scene of the emergency and stabilize the patient until further help arrives. In February 1985, the South Shore Boys Club sold its building (originally built for New York Telephone Company in 1925) to the CAC, augmenting its garage on Swayze Street and providing more space for administration and crew relaxation. In 1992, CAC acquired its first MCI (Mass Casualty Incident) trailer response support unit; this was replaced in 2001 by a self-driven  MCI vehicle which has carries enough supplies to service ten patients as well as helping care for fire-fighters with drinking water and other needs. In between, it also acquired a larger Pace trailer unit which it retains for use in a very complex major emergency. These MCI vehicles are designed as strictly support vehicles; they are neither designed nor equipped for the transport of individual patients. Currently, CACs fleet includes five ambulances, four responder cars, the MCI and a pick-up utility truck for use as needed.Currently (2013), CAC has been responding to over 4,000 calls annually in the five towns.  Specific categorization is difficult because of overlapping problems  but falls acount for at least 11% of the calls; respiratory problems, 10% ; unconsciousness or fainting, 8%; motor vehicle accidents, 8%;  chest pain, 7%; burns, scalds and explosions, 4%; and overdose and poisoning, 4%..A majority of CAC's approximately 100 members are (qualified by New York State as) EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians); most of the balance are qualified to provide ALS (Advance Life Support, paramedic and critical care). The remainder are in training for the above, varying from six to 12 months.  On average, members probably are on duty around 15 hours a week but some put in considerably more. In 2012, CAC  acquired land at the intersection of Lakeland Avenue and Chester Road and anticipates moving to that location, more in the center of its territory when the new quarters are ready.

All photos courtesy of Community Ambulance Company

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Public Safety: Sayville Fire Department


Original Hook & Ladder Truck
(Displayed Memorial Day Parade, 1931)



First Motorized Hook & Ladder Truck on L.I.
1916 Gift of Commodore Bourne



Working with the "Mack"



1970 GMC Bruh Truck


1984 Broadway Substation opened



1985 Pierce Dash Class A Pumper


1985 Mack Aerial Scope Tower Ladder



Mako w/ 350 gpm pump


Sayville Fire Department:    A serious fire in the spring of 1878 prompted residents to  consider the  need for an organization to fight this menace.  On August 12, 1878, the Sayville Hook and Ladder Company # 1 was organized and 19 citizens signed the original charter at Columbia Hall on October 14; it was the first incoporated fire company on the south shore of Suffolk County.  The first hand-drawn truck for transporting buckets, ladders, axes and other equipment was built by Fred Munkelwitz, local blacksmith and wheelwright, in his shop at (now 100)  Railroad Avenue; the cost was $ 120.  When responding to a fire, men pulled the truck with a rope followed by a fireman beating a drum to alert/awaken fire fighters; once there, a "bucket brigade"   fought the fire, hopefully finding a well or hand pump handy to provide the water  Following the formation of the Company, another group, the Truck House Company, Walter L. Suydam, Chairman, issued shares of stock ($ 5 to $25 each)  to firemen and constructed a building for $ 300 on leased land just north of Munkelwitz' shop; the building  was later moved further north on the west side of the street  ( between now Swayze and  Hiddink), and all of the stock and the new land was purchased by the Hook & Ladder Company. By 1888, this location was considered to be too far out of the way, the land and truck house were sold to the German Benevolent Society, and a new home, designed by I.H. Green, was constructed on property bought from Joseph J. Jedlicka on the south side of Main Street near Green Avenue.  The new home, with the first fire alarm bell in its tower, was dedicated on July 23, 1889; a simultaneous  Grand Bazaar was held in the Congregational Church. In 1889, the Great South Bay Water Company laid water mains in the Village; however, the pressure was so low that the stream often would not reach above the first floor. 

 That same year,   a second fire organization, the Sayville Hose Company # 1 was formed on October 12 with 11 members; it bought a truck and 500 feet of hose, purchased land on the east side of Candee Avenue near Main Street and, eventually, renovated an existing building for storage. As early as 1896, the Company expressed its need for more room and, in 1900, decided to sell its existing building and build the Sayville Opera House, to include space for its equipment.  The new Opera House opened on August 1, 1901; the Hose Company was located in the soutwest corner, adjacent to the Suffolk County News. (Also see: Sayville: Main Street to the Bay, Opera House)..Still a third group, the Resolute Hose Company, was formed on September 1, 1891 and incorporated in April 1892. Their initial equipment was a high two-wheeled hose cart. However as they began to grow and equipment got heavier, they offered two dollars to anyone who would provide a horse to pull it to the fire. In December 1916, Commodore Frederick G. Bourne gave the Hook & Ladder Company its first motorized truck, a Reo equipped with  a chemical tank, hose and ladders; it was the second motorized fire apparatus east of Jamaica.  The three companies  became very competitive, each striving to arrive at the fire scene and control the hydrant (if any) first; sometimes their relationship turned out to be very aggressive. On May 5, 1905, the Sayville Fire Department was formed, to some extent uniting the three units, although they continued to "compete". Sayville Hose Company  # 1 consolidated with and turned over all of its property to Hook & Ladder # 1 on July 1, 1921.

The present Sayville Fire District stretching from Brown's River to Green's Creek and extending three miles above the Railroad tracks, was legally established in September 7,1922. However, the two remaining companies maintained their rivalry and it was not until the latter 1920s that they began to coordinate and work together. The Department received its first motorized pumper, a 300 gpm Reo-Pirsch in 1924.  By 1936, the Department had acquired more equipment and outgrown the old Fire House; the voters appropriated $ 60,000 for  a new building at the corner of Lincoln  Avenue and North Main Street which  was dedicated on June 10, 1938. In June 1942, an Army platoon took up residence in the Fire House; their job was to patrol the Shore in a jeep mounted woith a .50 caliber machine gun. In December 1950, radios were installed in fire trucks, the third Department in the County to do so. In 1955, the first aerial ladder truck was acquired. In 1972, an addition to the Main Fire House provided space for Control and Generator Rooms. First woman member joined in 1983. Following a fatal fire in the Indian Neck Development, a substation was constructed on nearby Broadway Avenue to provide speedier response in the area; it was dedicated in October 1984.another addition was made to the Main Fire House in 1994 to provide much needed storage space. Currently, the Department has about 100 members; in 2012, it responded to 518 alarms.  Current apparatus includes  4 pumpers, 2 hose wagons, 1 tower ladder truck, 4 officer response cars,  2 tactical or rescue trucks, 2 police vans, 1 brush truck, 1 fire/rescue boat and 2 utility vehicles.

For more details see: 50th Anniversary of the Sayville Fire Department, 1905-1955.
Weeks & Reichel Printing Company, 1956

Sayville Hook & Ladder Co., No. 1, 1878-1978.

Sayville Fire Dept., 1905-2005. July 2005

All photos courtesy of Sayville Fire Department,  taken from one of above publications

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Public Safety: West Sayville Fire Department


Fully equipped with 4 ladders (18' + 20' can make extension ladder, 35 feet long); 4 hand hooks & poles, 1 chain hook, rope, chain & pole, 2 plain axes, 2 pick head axes, 8 rubber buckets, 4 brass hand lanterns, signal lamp & bell, rope reel & drag rope.  Weight 950 pounds.



1918 - Reo Speed Wagon fitted as hose truck
(Motorized pumper added to truck in 1922)



1932 Model "A" Ford  Pumper


1937 Ward LaFrance, Bud Van Wyen, driver



Mid-1960s Apparatus


1972  Seagrave Pumper (1,000 gpm)



1988 Pierce Lance Pumper (1,250 gpm)


Trophy Room



Mack 75 foot Tower Ladder in use 
August 1990, Fighting Thurber Appliance Fire



West Sayville Fire Department:   Following their 1891 decision to name their town West Sayville, local residents met at Dingness VanPopering's store again on October 1 and formed the West Sayville Hook and Ladder Company # 1. Thereafter, the 32 members met in Cornelius DeGraff's barn on the north side of Main Street west of Rollstone to proceed with the organization; Commodore Frederick G. Bourne agreed to order a needed truck and the members set about looking for  a location for a Truck House.   In June 1892 a fire house, 20 x 32 feet,  was erected on Atlantic Street at a cost of $ 700, most of which was donated by the villagers.  On August 11, 1892, the Department received its first major equipment,  a fully equipped  hand-drawn  Rumsey & Company hook & ladder truck complete with ladders, buckets, axes, lanterns, bell and rope wheel; Commodore Bourne made up the difference between donations and final cost.  In October following, the Department voted to get a bell as a fire alarm and also to pay a janitor $ 12 a year to clean the Truck House. Commodore Bourne donated the bell in commemoration of  service that the Department had given at his home and it served as the alarm for the next 40 years.In September 1908, the West Sayville Hose Company was formed and all members  automatically became members of both Companies.The first motorized equipment was acquired in 1918, a Reo Speed Wagon fitted as a hose truck; a pumper was purchased and added to the truck in 1922.In late 1919, the Department voted to Incorporate; however, because of the extensive Bourne and Vanderbilt properties to the west, it was April 12, 1926 before the West Sayville - Oakdale Fire District was formalized, encompassed on the south by the Great South Bay, on the east by Green's Creek and the Brook to one-mile north of the railroad tracks, on the north one-mile north of the railroad tracks, and on the west by Rattlesnake Brook and Connetquot River.In October 1928, the District purchased the VanPopering Homestead at 80 Main Street for $ 15,000.  Upon voters approval of $ 60,000, work was begun on the new fire house, dedicated on July 16, 1931.  It was 60 feet across the front, extending back 120 feet on each side. The first floor was to be divided between storage for equipment and an auditorium/gym; dressing rooms and showers for firemen were in the basement. A large Meeting Room as well as a  Trophy Room to display awards won in  tournaments and other events was on the second floor.In September 1931, the old building was put up for sale; it was sold to the Sayville post of the American Legion for $ 101 and moved to Foster Avenue, Sayville where it stands today..By the late 1950s, although the number of fires remained at about 50 annually, their magnitude  had increased, fire insurance premiums were increasing, and the Department considered itself short of equipment (e.g., an aerial truck) and manpower (particularly in Oakdale) to fight them. Formation of Oakdale Engine Company  was approved in September 1959 to attract new members from that area and plans were already underway for a sub-station there; it was dedicated on May 13, 1960 and the Company there renamed in February 1964 in a reorganization. An aerial ladder truck was purchased in 1960 and  in 1961, the first Chief's car.  That same year, 24-hour radio coverage by dispatchers was inaugurated and direct dial telephone service also came to the community, expediting fire calls. On November 15, 2009, the Department dedicated a two-story, 17,000 square foot addition to its West Sayville Headquarters, providing better accomodation for its growing fleet of apparatus and necessary accesory equipment. Currently (2013, includes both stations), the Department  has about 115 members; in 2012, it responded to over 600 calls.  Current apparatus includes 4 pumpers, 1 tower ladder truck, 1 fire police van, 1 heavy rescue truck, 1 brush truck, 2 officer response cars and 1 bus.


For more details  see A History of the West Sayville Volunteer Fire Department 1881-1891.  Minneapolis, MN: Jostens Inc., 1992

All photos from above publication

 except Trophy Room postcard courtesy of William Leigh-Manuel

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