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Lynbrook FD Receives Elks Club Award

 Story and Photos by Ex-Captain Steve Grogan

On Sunday, October 29, 2006, the volunteers of the Lynbrook Fire Department, along with the Junior Fire Department and the Ladies Auxiliary, attended the Annual Memorial Service at the Firefighter’s Memorial on Sunrise Highway that now honors the memory of six Lynbrook volunteers who died in the line of duty for this village.  At this service the name of Firefighter John J. Smillie of Hose Company was added to the memorial.  The Smillie family was in attendance as were the mayor and village board, Town Councilman Anthony Santino, State Senator Dean Skelos, Assemblyman Bob Barra, and Legislator Fran Becker, along with Police Officer Joseph Cipolla, representing the Lynbrook PBA, and William Gaylor, past president of the Lynbrook Chamber of Commerce.  Father William Breslowski and Pastor Faye also took part in the services.


On July 13, 1939, Firefighter John J. Smillie, along with the rest of the fire department, responded to a building fire 220 Atlantic Avenue which was quickly extinguished.  After getting back on the fire engine to return to the firehouse Smillie collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack.  He had been a member of the Hose Company from January 1913.


Smillie’s death in the line of duty was recently uncovered when a July 14, 1939 issue of the Nassau Daily Review-Star newspaper which reported on his death was found.  It has not been but for the last 20 years of so that firefighters who suffer heart attacks at a fire scene are considered a line of duty death. (See Hose Company’s website for additional photos of the unveiling of a plaque in Smillie’s honor in Hose Company’s quarters).


The other Lynbrook volunteer firefighters killed in the line of duty, and whose names also appear on the memorial include, Lieutenant Fred Schnoor of Tally-Ho, who was overcome by smoke in a fire on May 31, 1932, Ex-Chief Raymond Abrams of Engine Company, who died on June 30, 1946 after falling from their fire engine, and firefighters William J. Koch, Peter J. Moody, and Joseph J. Fisher, also all of Engine Company, who were killed when their fire engine was involved in an accident while responding to a fire call on April 30, 1963.


After the memorial service all those in attendance proceeded to the Knights of Columbus Hall on Hempstead Avenue where breakfast was served.  The guest speaker at the breakfast was Mineola FD Ex-Chief Scott Strauss who is also retired from the Emergency Services Unit of NYPD.   Chief Keith Festa appreciates and thanks the many officials as well as the many volunteers who attended the services.  “We should never forget our fallen brother firefighters,” said Chief Festa.     


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