Good News from Our Fire Department

By Joey MacellaroThis was a good summer. I spent days in the city and nights on the beach, enjoyed quality time with family and an assortment of friends and acquaintances, met new people, tried new things, and invested myself in pursuits I enjoy. I wrote, made phone calls, and conducted interviews. I made music and heard music. Somehow, in between it all, I relaxed, and saw sunrises and sunsets.“Do not cry because they are over!” wrote German poet Ludwig Jacobowski. “Smile, because they have been!” Thesun is setting on our summertime days on the beach. These days were mostly good, but there are yet many more good days to come.There is good news to report from the Ocean Beach Fire Department, which has received an Assistance to Firefighters Grant in the amount of $186,858 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The funds from the grant will cover the cost of 27 new Scott Air-Pak 4500 psi self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) units, as well as new air masks and 54 45-minute air bottles, an upgrade from the department’s current 30-minute bottles. SCBA equipment provides air to firefighters in high-smoke conditions. The new apparatus is equipped with technology called Pak-Tracker, which provides detailed data on firefighters’ locations.“It’s a wonderful thing to be able to provide the most up-to-date equipment to our volunteer firefighters,” said fire department Chief Ian Levine. “It allows them to provide the best possible service to the residents and visitors of our communities.”Assistant Chief Marty Leiderman and former Chief Frank Silsdorf applied for the FEMA grant two years ago, citing the need to bring the department’s equipment up to current standards.In addition to the new SCBA equipment, through the petitioning of Silsdorf and the Ocean Beach Fire Department, the towns of Islip and Brookhaven are funding the purchase of 32 portable radios at a cost of $248,000. The radios will be distributed to all nine fire departments on Fire Island.“As the town supervisor, I am so grateful that we were able to secure the funding for the new radios for our emergency service providers on the barrier beach, and make sure they have the necessary tools to safeguard our residents and visitors to Fire Island, said Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter.Until 2005, all fire-related radio communication on Fire Island was conducted through the Suffolk County Department of Fire Rescue and Emergency Services’ lowband radio system. Unique challenges arose on Fire Island, as Islip and Brookhaven towns operated on different frequencies and chiefs frequently could not reach the county dispatcher. A new Island-Wide Radio System was implemented to allow Fire Island fire departments to communicate directly with each other during emergencies. However, communication with the mainland is still necessary, and the radios used by beach departments were incompatible with the new 800-megahertz system the county is implementing in 2020. The new radios are compatible with both the county system and the local Fire Island system.While our community’s firefighters celebrate these achievements, nearly 80 of Ocean Beach’s most athletic have been coming together over the last couple of weeks for the village’s 31st annual basketball tournament, the largest sporting event on the beach.“We started off with four teams and now have nine,” said Commissioner Rick Kushner. “Players come from Seaview to Lonelyville and from Washington, D.C., too. There are two women playing this year.” He added that players must be at least 15 years of age. The teams began competing on Aug. 16, and finals will be played this weekend, starting Friday, Aug. 30, at 4:45 p.m. and continuing Saturday, at 10:15 a.m., and Sunday, at 4 p.m. Around 350 spectators typically attend finals, which are held at the Fire Island School. Kushner, who owns three local businesses and has been on the beach since 1969, has served as commissioner since the tournament’s inception and is aided by six assistant commissioners.The annual Sandpiper Run for children was held on the beach starting at Cottage Walk on Saturday, Aug. 25. The event, organized by Steve Einig, divided participants into four age categories: 4 and 5, 6 to8, 9 to 11, and 12 to 14. As always, an exuberant time was had by all.The Ocean Beach Fishing Club’s annual catch-and-release fishing contest will be held this Saturday, Aug. 31, on the west dock across from Maguire’s, from 9 a.m. to noon. All children aged 14 years and younger may participate. An entrance fee of $25 includes membership in the club, a rod, bait, a T-shirt, refreshments, a souvenir, and awards forboys and girls in two age groups – under 8 and 9 to 14. Call Ocean Beach Fishing Club director Woody Salvan at 917-699-8416 for more information.The Ocean Beach Association hosted its last social event of the season, a sunset happy hour, at the Windswept facility at Ocean Road, on the evening of Saturday, Aug. 24. As an aside, a long-time member of the Association stopped by last week to request that I remind readers to remove event flyers from telephone poles in a timely fashion.The last day of summer bike restrictions is Tuesday, Sept. 3. Fall schedules for Fire Island Ferries become effective Sept. 3, with the summer Sunday schedule being used on Labor Day. The next village board meeting will be held Saturday, Sept. 14, beginning at 11:15 a.m., at the boathouse.Remember that the doctor’s office at Bayberry and Midway, operated by Northwell Health, remains open from 9 to 11 a.m. and from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to noon and 3 to 6 p.m. on weekends, through Sunday, Sept. 8.“Maybe happy endings were real,” wrote author Katharine McGee, “as long as you understood that they weren’t endings, but steps on the road.” I’ve had the pleasure of crossing paths with so many of you this happy season. Until we meet again, keep smiling, and keep in touch.