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East Norwich FD Day June 16, Drill, Parade, Block Party

Celebrating 100 years of service to the community

The East Norwich Volunteer Fire Department is celebrating its 100th anniversary on Saturday, June 16, with a parade, drill and block party. The drill takes place at 10 a.m. at Firemen’s Field. The parade starts at 6 p.m. and will march from Muttontown to the East Norwich Fire House with the trucks going on to park at the Vernon School. There will be a path for pedestrians to walk back and forth to the East Norwich firehouse where an awards ceremony for the drill will take place, followed by a block party which will begin at about 8 p.m. There will be music from the town’s showmobile as Six Gun entertains the audience.
Local Traffic Advisory

Village of Muttontown Police Chief William McHale said his force will be involved in the parade events. He said the staging area for the parade is on the shoulder of Route 106 north of Muttontown Road. There will be 11 fire departments from the 5th Battalion taking part in the parade. Fire departments marching in the parade include: the Bayville Fire Company, Locust Valley Fire Department, Oyster Bay Fire Co. No. 1 and Atlantic Steamer Fire Co., Syosset Fire Department, Glenwood Fire Company, Roslyn Rescue, Glen Cove Fire Department, Roslyn Highlands, East Norwich Fire Company and Sea Cliff Fire Department.

Chief McHale said the parade will step off officially in the area of the Muttontown Village Hall on Raz Tafuro Way on Route 106. The parade will proceed across 25A and march to the East Norwich fire house and on to the Vernon School.

He said, “Motorists should be aware that for the parade to safely go on it will require that Route 25A be closed from about 5 p.m. until the parade is complete sometime prior to 8 p.m.” He said that for local people who have off driveways in that area along Route 106, they will be allowed access, but there will be no through traffic. He suggested people use alternate routes such as Split Rock Road to connect with Jackson Avenue and Jericho Turnpike.

ENFD History

John Hammond, Town of Oyster Bay historian, is currently in the process of writing a book on the East Norwich Fire Department’s history. Mr. Hammond wrote a history of East Norwich called Crossroads in honor of the East Norwich Tricentennial. In it he details much of the history of the fire company.

In his book Oyster Bay Remembered, Mr. Hammond began the story of the company by relating in great detail a fire that occurred in East Norwich on Feb. 5, 1889. It began in the barn of Gideon Franklin, north of the East Norwich Inn (now Chas. Rothmann’s). Burt Valentine sounded the alarm, and May Frost, the daughter of Halstead Holloway Frost, Esq. the owner of the East Norwich Enterprise ran to ring the church bell. She couldn’t find the key at either Wilbur Johnson’s store or from the church sexton, James Vernon. Instead, she got in through a window. At about the same time, Jennie Whitney Griffin rode her horse to Oyster Bay to alert their fire company, but Mrs. John Waldron had phoned the information to them already. The men were at an event at Fleet’s Hall.

In about 10 minutes, 20 men from Oyster Bay arrived in East Norwich and soon there were 100 people fighting the fire. Mr. Hammond wrote, “Women from the village carried about 70 buckets from McKay’s store as a bucket brigade line was formed from the stream that fed into Brown’s Pond [off Mill River Road]. An early decision was made that the old Franklin barn was going to be lost, so the bucket brigade turned its efforts toward saving the print shop of the East Norwich Enterprise and the East Norwich Hotel.”

The fire was spread by sparks to the adjoining Acker barn, the Frost homestead and Waldron’s tin shop, but the fires there were controlled with the help of the Oyster Bay firefighters who had arrived on the scene. Mr. Hamond wrote, “A short while later it began to rain and snow and the residents of the village again began to feel secure that the burning embers would be thoroughly doused; but just in case, 16 men stayed on guard overnight to make sure there was no re-ignition.”

Although East Norwich Enterprise editor John Remsen pleaded with residents to form a fire company, it was more than 20 years later, in 1912, that the East Norwich Volunteer Fire Company was formed.

In the book Crossroads, Mr. Hammond names some of the men involved in creating the fire company, and they are a roster of names whose descendants are still volunteering at the firehouse.

Mr. Hammond wrote that it was in 1911 that businessmen and residents started talking of having their own fire company. On Jan. 20, 1912, James H. Vernon was elected chief of the new company and Richard Downing Jr. was the secretary. Daniel T. Horton offered a wagon to be used as a ladder truck. Arthur Martling offered to do all the iron work on the wagon. Vernon J. Waldron offered to do the woodwork. Walter Hoagland was appointed to do the letter stencils for the equipment. Chief Vernon took on the responsibility of erecting the alarm they had bought from the LIRR, and the process was begun.

The ENFD Today

The East Norwich Fire Company No.1 website, tells their story, saying they have a rich and glorious tradition of service since their incorporation in the year 1912. “We have stayed with the only constant and that is change,” It states.

In 1952 new homes were built in what had been the Horton’s potato farm and the communities of Radcliff Manor and Norwich Green added to the hamlet’s population. That growth in population created the need for a larger fire department. In 1963, the present firehouse was dedicated. This year, 2012, an addition to the building was needed to conform to the Homeland Security regulations.

Over the years they have added new equipment as needed. Among their new apparatus is the new 516 tower ladder. They have also acquired infrared vision devices that enable them to see victims trapped inside a burning building even through thick smoke. It also allows them to see fire that is isolated and not visible. Many fires hide in walls and confined spaces with the infrared camera they can see the fire and extinguish it before it becomes a problem.

The ENFD added, “Edmund Burke once wrote, ‘The easiest way for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.’ We at East Norwich Fire Company No.1 have taken applications from both good men and women who reside in our district and they have generously donated the time and energy required to become East Norwich Firefighters, EMTs, AEMTs or Paramedics. I hope that you will support us as one of the pillars of the Oyster Bay- East Norwich Community.”

FYI: The Drill starts at 10 a.m. in Firemen’s Field in Oyster Bay. The drills test and develop the skills of the firefighters and will include: Individual Ladder, Three-Man Ladder, Running Ladder, Running Hose, Running Hose Replacement, Efficiency Replacement, Efficiency, Two Into One and the last event, Buckets.