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First Lynbrook fire Department Line of Duty Death Uncovered

Story by  Ex Captain Steven Grogan (Originally Posted In 2004)


After nearly 72 years Lynbrook’s Village Historian has uncovered the death of Lynbrook’s first volunteer firefighter that died in the line of duty in 1932.

Village Historian Art Mattson uncovered the story while searching through archive records. This death is unknown to the present members of the Lynbrook Fire Department.

Mattson, who is now retired, is penning a book on the History of Lynbrook titled, "The History of Lynbrook Before 1940." As part of the book Mattson has been looking into the history of the Lynbrook Volunteer Fire Department. During his search of records on file with the Long Island Collection of Historical Documents at Hofstra University, Art Mattson found microfilmed documentation for the first known Line of Duty death of a Lynbrook Firefighter, Second Lieutenant Frederick J. Schnorr of Tally-Ho Engine Company 3, who succumbed to injuries sustained at a fire on May 31st, 1932. He brought this article to my attention.

Lt. Schnorr’s death was reported in a story titled, "Fire Lieutenant Succumbs After Early Morning Fire," in the Nassau Daily Review newspaper. According to the newspaper, which is dated May 31, 1932, the Lynbrook Fire Department suffered its first recorded line of duty death on that date when Lt. Schnorr was "felled by heavy smoke." Click here to view the article in its entirety (PDF).

The story said that at 2:10 that morning a fire broke out in a "store house" at the rear of 3 Maple Avenue in Lynbrook. Tally-Ho was the first company on the scene. What they found were thick clouds of billowing smoke coming from the structure. The source of the smoke was stack upon stack of smoldering mattresses and woolen waste. Although there were no visible flames, the choking smoke made the attack on the fire extremely difficult. Tally-Ho Second Lieutenant Fred Schnorr, 52, who lived at 9 Lewis Place, entered the building to supervise his "vamps" as they trained water on the smoldering mattresses and fabrics.

Soon after entering the building Schnorr however was overcome by the smoke and "was carried out by companions, and first aid treatment was administered by members of the rescue squad." The article said that Schnorr however never regained consciousness and died at 4:45 AM.

Then Lynbrook Mayor Howard G. Wilson said in the same newspaper, "Fred Schnorr was a modest, courageous fireman. He was alert and vigilant in the performance of his obligations as a volunteer fireman. His faithfulness and his devotion to duty and his service to the people of Lynbrook will ever be remembered by all of us."

A New York Times article titled, "Dies After Fighting Blaze," also dated May 31, 1932, reported that Schnorr died after fighting a "fire in a barn at 23 Maple Avenue." It also said he "was overcome by heat and smoke" fighting the fire. This article however said that after being pulled from the fire "he walked, unaided to his home….within another hour, he was dead." He was pronounced dead by the fire department surgeon Dr. Alexander Cohen. 

Mattson in writing his history of the department visited the Firefighter's Memorial on Sunrise Highway and Earle Avenue only to find that Schnorr's name is nowhere to be found. The Memorial lists the names of four Lynbrook volunteers that died in the line of duty and honors four others that were killed serving in World War II. The first volunteer listed on the Memorial as being killed in the line of duty is Raymond A. Abrams of Engine Company who was killed in a fall from a fire truck on June 30, 1946. The other three volunteers, also from Engine Company, were killed when fire trucks from Engine Company and Tally-Ho Company collided at Peninsula Blvd and Hempstead Avenue responding to a false alarm on April 30, 1963. 

Mattson writes in his book, "It is the sincere hope of this author that this book will help keep alive the memory of the sacrifice of Lt. Frederick J. Schnorr, volunteer firefighter. With the passage of 70 years, Schnorr's death in the line of duty has been forgotten in Lynbrook. His name does not appear among the other names of heroic firemen listed on the Fire Department Memorial on Sunrise Highway."

After Mattson provided me with a copy of the newspapers, I check with Bill Dauscher, Tally-Ho's financial secretary. I myself have been a member of Tally-Ho for 36 years and had never heard of Schnorr. Dauscher found a card on file in some old records that verified that Schnorr was a member of Tally-Ho for four and one half years when he died. Schnorr had joined Tally-Ho on November 7, 1927 and his badge number was 154. It also lists that he was buried in Greenfield Cemetery in Hempstead. 

As Schnorr's death was nearly 72 years ago no one presently in the company has knowledge of Schnorr or his line of duty death. The present oldest living member of Tally-Ho has over 58 years in the company and he didn't know about Schnorr. 

The members of Tally-Ho will bring this information to the Fire Council of the Lynbrook Fire Department so that Schnorr's name can be added to the Lynbrook Firefighters Memorial on Sunrise Highway. Mattson can be assured that thanks to his work Schnorr's name will be added to the Memorial and he will be remembered each October, when we honor the four other Lynbrook volunteer firefighters who died in the line of duty, at a memorial service. The four killed in World War II are honored each Memorial Day.



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