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The Lynbrook Fire Department Memorial

 

By Ex-Captain Steve Grogan

 

The Lynbrook Fire Dept. Memorial is located on the corner of Sunrise Highway & Earle Ave. in Lynbrook. 

 

The memorial honors the memory and sacrifice of ten Lynbrook volunteers.  Six were killed in the line of duty in this community and the other four volunteers were killed fighting for our country in World War II. 

 

Those that died in the line of duty here in Lynbrook include a Tally-Ho Lieutenant killed fighting a fire in 1932, a Hose Company firefighter killed in 1939, a Chief and member of Engine Company killed when he fell from the rig in 1946, and three firefighters from Engine Company killed when Engine Company and Tally-Ho collided responding to a call in 1963.

 

April 30, 2003 marked the 40th Anniversary of a tragic 1963 accident that took the lives of three Lynbrook volunteer firefighters and a school crossing guard.  Here are links to that story and others on this page:

 

 

 

Four Killed in Lynbrook FD Tragedy

 

Fr. Larry Penzes Remembered | First Line of Duty Death Uncovered

 

 Remembering a Fallen Leader

 

Volunteer Firefighter Magazine 1963 Accident Story, August 2013 issue (PDF)

 

 

 


   Four Killed in Lynbrook Fire Department Tragedy

On that fateful day in 1963, just after 12 o’clock noon, and right after a rain storm, the volunteers of the Lynbrook Fire Department were called out to a reported house fire at 331 Earle Avenue.  Engine Company No. 1 from the Carpenter Avenue firehouse responded with six volunteers aboard and proceeded through the village and headed north on Hempstead Avenue to Peninsula Boulevard.  Tally-Ho Engine Company No. 3 from the Horton Avenue firehouse, also responding with six volunteers, headed east on Merrick Road onto Peninsula Boulevard. 

 

At the time Mrs. Rosalie Roy, a Lynbrook school crossing guard assigned to the intersection of Hempstead Avenue and Peninsula Blvd., was on duty.  Both fire engines with their lights blazing and their sirens and horns blowing loudly headed for the same intersection.  Mrs. Roy apparently saw the fire engines approaching and possibly sensing a collision ran into the intersection trying to stop them.  It was reported at the time that both drivers may have believed that Mrs. Roy was in the intersection to stop vehicular traffic for the benefit of their fire truck.

 

At approximately 12:08 PM the two fire trucks entered the intersection at the same time.  The drivers of the trucks could not stop on the rain slicked roadway and they collided with the sound of twisted medal that was louder than the blaring sirens and horns.  Tally-Ho smashed into the rear portion of Engine Company and spun it around in the intersection striking Mrs. Roy before she had time to run back to the curb.  She was hurled to the lawn in front of the Penbrook apartment building on the northeast corner of the intersection.  She died instantly.  Engine Company also knocked down a light pole on the corner before stopping 20 feet north of the intersection.  The intersection was littered with the bodies of the volunteers who had been thrown from their trucks.

 

A total of nine firefighters were injured in the accident.  The most seriously hurt was William Koch, age 57, of 64 Marion Street, Peter Moody, 21, of 41 Marion Street, and Joseph Fisher, 36, of 21 Marion Street, who were all riding on the back of Engine Company.  Also injured, but less seriously was Peter Skeris of 114 Stevenson Street, who was on Tally-Ho and thrown from his truck.  All were taken to Mercy Hospital where Koch died on arrival.  Moody and Fisher remained in critical condition.  Skeris was later released from the hospital.  Other firefighters injured were treated at the accident scene and sent home.

 

On May 2, 1963,  Moody died from his injuries followed by Fisher who died the following day.  In all, three volunteers and a school crossing guard were killed in the one of the Village of Lynbrook’s worst tragedies since the village was incorporated in 1912.  Only the deaths of five members of the Levy family in a house fire two years before this accident claimed more lives.

 

In newspaper articles written after the accident the crash was attributed to “the treacherous surface of Peninsula Blvd.”  It was also reported that the “road surface was slippery with oil and water.”  Accounts further stated that Engine Company was late getting out of the firehouse due to engine trouble.  The papers said, “Otherwise, both trucks would never have been in that intersection.”  Another newspaper reported that Engine Company had also been stopped at Five Corners by a bus that had blocked that intersection.   Neither of the fire engines was reported to have been speeding at the time of the accident.  The fire call that the two trucks were responding to turned out to be a malfunctioning steam valve on a furnace.

 

Firefighter Koch, an employee of Ruppert’s Brewery in Brooklyn, was the secretary of Engine Company, and a member of the VFW after serving with the Navy Seabees in the Pacific during World War II.  Koch left behind a wife and a daughter.  Firefighter Moody was not married and had only been a volunteer for two years.  He was survived by his mother, father, brothers and a sister.  Firefighter Fisher, an oil burner mechanic, was also a veteran who served in World War II as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne.  He left behind his widow.  Mrs. Rosalie Roy, a mother of three, who helped children cross the intersection for attendance at nearby Our Lady of Peace School, had worked as a crossing guard for nearly three years.

 

The names of the three firefighters killed in this tragic accident are remembered with a stone in front of the Firefighter’s Memorial.  The memorial also honors another Engine Company member who was killed in the line of duty when he fell from the fire truck while responding to a call in the 50’s.  The memorial also lists the names of those four Lynbrook volunteers who went off to fight in World War II and were killed in action.  A separate stone honoring Mrs. Roy is located on the lawn in front of the apartments at 60 Hempstead Avenue where she died in the performance of her duties.  

   

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Father Larry Penzes Remembered

 

Twice a year, every year, the volunteers of the Lynbrook Fire Department join together at the memorial on Sunrise Highway to pay their respects and to honor the memory of their fallen comrades.  Each May, on Memorial Day, wreaths are laid for those four firefighters killed in action in World War II.  In October, another memorial service is held and wreaths are laid to remember those five firefighters killed in the line of duty right here in Lynbrook.  The volunteers never forget what these men have given up for this country and our community and neither should our residents.

 

The men and women of the Lynbrook Fire Department recently honored the memory of  Father Larry Penzes, who was killed while saying Mass at Our Lady of Peace Church on the morning of March 12, 2002, with the planting of a tree alongside the Church.  Father Larry was the fire department's Chaplain from March 1993 until his death.

 

Father Larry was a true friend of the Lynbrook Fire Department, as well as to the residents of the Village of Lynbrook, and continues to be missed by all who were touched by his presence. 

 

 

 

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First Lynbrook Fire Department Line of Duty Death Uncovered

 

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. Mattson, who is now retired, authored a newly published 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 Steve Grogan's attention.

 

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

 

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.

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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Remembering  A Fallen Leader

 

The following was read at the Lynbrook Fire Department’s Annual Memorial Service held at the Firefighters Memorial on Sunrise Highway on Sunday, October 24, 2004.  At the service the name of Tally-Ho’s Second Lieutenant Frederick J. Schnorr was added to the memorial.

           

"Today, as the Lynbrook Fire Department comes together to remember our brother firefighters who have died in the line of duty, we also add the name of another hero to our Firefighters’ Memorial who has long since been forgotten.  Today we also honor the memory of Second Lieutenant Frederick J. Schnorr of Tally-Ho Engine Company 3 who gave his life in the service of our village many years ago.

Frederick J. Schnorr lived at 9 Lewis Place in Lynbrook.  He lived there with his wife Catherine and a son, Fred Jr.  On November 7, 1927, at the age of 47, Fred Sr. joined Tally-Ho and quickly became an active and dedicated member of the company.

Just after 2 o’clock in the morning of May 31, 1932, Fred Schnorr, now 51 years of age, and a Second Lieutenant with Tally-Ho, responded with Tally-Ho and the rest of the Lynbrook Fire Department to a reported fire at 23 Maple Avenue not far from Schnorr’s home.   Tally-Ho was the first company on the scene and Lieutenant Schnorr led the company’s attack on the fire.  The firefighters were met with a heavy smoke condition as they arrived on the block and soon found a store house in the rear of the property with thick clouds of billowing smoke coming from the building.  Lt. Schnorr led the members of Tally-Ho into the building finding stack upon stack of smoldering mattresses and woolen waste burning.  Although there was no visible fire the choking smoke made the attack extremely difficult.  Neither Schnorr nor the other volunteers were wearing any type of breathing apparatus.

According to the newspaper, The Nassau Daily Review, “Schnorr was overcome soon after he entered the building.  He was carried out by (his) companions, and first aid treatment was administered by members of the rescue squad.  Schnorr, however, never regained consciousness and he died at 4:45 AM.  Dr. Alexander Cohen pronounced him dead and determined the cause as heart failure.”   

The New York Times reported it somewhat differently.  The Times said that Schnorr was carried from the building, revived and treated at the scene, and had managed to make it to his nearby home, dying there a few hours later.

Second Lieutenant Frederick J. Schnorr died that morning in the line of duty just like the other four Lynbrook volunteer firefighters who are listed on the stone in front of us.  Schnorr, whose name has now been added to the stone, will now be remembered as Lynbrook’s first line of duty death.

Back then in 1932, then Lynbrook’s Mayor, Howard G. Wilson, said, “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 duty and his service to the people of Lynbrook will ever be remembered by all of us.”

Although it is over 72 years since Mayor Wilson made that statement Frederick J. Schnorr will finally and eternally be remembered by the Lynbrook Fire Department at this memorial.  He will no longer be forgotten.

The officers and members of Tally-Ho would like to thank Lynbrook’s Village Historian Art Mattson whose research uncovered the death of Schnorr and brought it to our attention.  The members of Tally-Ho also made an effort to locate a living relative of Schnorr, but without success.

We also thank the Lynbrook Fire Department for allowing Tally-Ho to honor our forgotten fallen leader.         

May He Rest in Peace."

 

In the above photo the senior members of Tally-Ho Engine Company #3 join together to salute the memory of Second Lieutenant Frederick J. Schnorr at the memorial service that added the name of Schnorr to the Lynbrook Fire Department’s memorial on Sunrise Highway.  From left to right are, Ex-Chief Tom Ryan, Ex-Chief Robert Cribbin, Honorary Chief Dan Quaranto, Ex-Chief Dominic DeCarlo, and present Tally-Ho Captain James Deliver.

 

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© Copyright 2016 -  Lynbrook Fire Department, All rights reserved. Revised: 28 Jul 2016 14:49:10 -0400