Deer Park Volunteer Fire Department
An excerpt from “A Brief History of the Deer Park Vol. Fire Dept.” by Ex-Chief Anthony F. Cesare and President Frank J. Kraker, circa 1962.
“It was the great forest fire of April 23, 1932 that [compelled residents] to do something about organized fire protection. At the next meeting of the Deer Park Civic Association, President James Collins appointed Bert Harwood, Fred Weiss, and Jack Erthal as a committee to investigate the possibility of establishing a fire company.
“Thus, on May 27, 1932, at a meeting in the home of Walter Schiek, on a motion by V. Gunther, the Deer Park Vol. Fire Company was created. Fred Weiss was appointed Chief. A few days later the new born company acquired a $50 Packard truck and began reconstructing it for fire service. With a bed frame fashioned into a ladder support, with sides of wall board, with milk cans for carrying water, with a new coat of red paint, and with fingers crossed, the proudest fire engine and crew were ready to roll. Spurring his men on was Fred Weiss, outfitted in a souvenir fire helmet, compliments of Texaco Fire Chief Gasoline. The following September a small Ford truck was purchased from the East Norwich Fire Dept., making the fledging company a most formidable fire fighting unit.
“The Depression years were severe on most folks, the fire companies not excepted. Financial aid was non-existent and many times the disbanding of the Company was considered. But somehow a few hardy members kept the organization together. In early 1937, realizing how critical times had become, the firemen distributed petitions to the Deer Park residents, seeking support for the creation of a Fire District. In November 1937 the Babylon Town Board established Fire District No. 14. The Board of Fire Commissioners immediately went to work to secure a new fire house and better equipment. It was hard for the men to believe when they received a NEW $3500 Mack pumper, that June 1938. Shortly thereafter the new stone fire house was completed, a far cry from the barns and shanties used in the past.
“In the 1940’s came the war years, and many of the members hung up their leather New Yorker helmets and donned the steel ones of Uncle Sam. With peace came the mushrooming of home building in the area and the department kept pace with the community. More equipment was acquired and larger quarters were needed. In 1958 the Department moved into its present building, a show place among fire stations. Today, the most modern of fire fighting gear can be found in our engine room. The 1,000 gallon pumper has replaced the milk can but not erased it from our memory.”
The department’s third headquarters was built on Deer Park Avenue, between Lake and Grand Avenues, in 1939. The firehouse was later extended as seen in this 1950s image of the department members and apparatus.
The fourth headquarters was opened in 1957 on Lake Avenue. At the time of this photograph, the road was being widened and paved in
preparation for the New York State Volunteer Firemen’s Association parade, the following year.
Photos courtesy of Lawrence Nicholson and the Deer Park Public Library.
Deer Park Fire Department, 94 Lake Avenue, Deer Park, NY 11729 (631) 667-4430 (non-emergency) www.deerparkfd.org