The West Babylon Fire Department

 

     There is no evidence of any formal fire department organized
during the early years of the West Babylon hamlet.  In all
likelihood fire fighting was conducted by impromptu groups when
the need arose.  This was true of most of the Township of
Babylon.  The first known organized Volunteer Fire Department in
the town was formed in 1877 in the Village of Lindenhurst, at
that time named Breslau.  Since the major population of West
Babylon resided close to the border of the Village of Babylon,
the Village Fire Department, organized in 1881, provided most of
the fire protection in the area.  Occasionally, the Lindenhurst
Fire Departments also covered the south end,   The north end was
protected by the Volunteer Fire Companies from Wyandanch
organized in 1925, and North Babylon organized in 1934.  Some
protection may have been provided by the East Farmingdale
Volunteer Fire Company, which was created in 1926, but it seems 
unlikely, except in an extreme emergency, due to the great
distance from their only Fire House, at the time, on Conklin
Street.  (The other five Fire Companies/Departments in the town,
with their organizing dates are; Amityville Village - 1905,
Copaigue - 1928, Deer Park - 1932, North Amityville - 1940, and
North Lindenhurst - 1957.) 
     During World War II a number of residents served as
Auxiliary Firemen, part of the Civilian Defense Program. 
Starting in 1943 they used a fire engine loaned to them by the
Babylon Village Fire Department.  At the end of the war in Europe
this engine was returned to the village and the Auxiliary
disbanded.  In July of 1945, many of these same men organized the
West Babylon Volunteer Fire Company.  The first action they took
was to incorporate this new organization, which was approved by
the Town on September 18, 1945.  By November the group had
increased from eight members to thirty.  At a regular meeting
that month held on November 8, 1945, in the West Babylon School,
the volunteers approved the proposed by-laws and started planning
fund raising activities.  The officers elected at this meeting
were: President Ellison C. Driscoll, Vice President Albert E.
Kendall, Secretary Townsend E. Driscoll, Treasurer Hugo Avolin,
and Trustees Stephen Smith, Max Ottens and James O'Brien.  The
only fund-raising activity that is recorded is a dance held at
the Town Kaffay in Deer Park.  Having been a success, in April a
1944 six cylinder Chevrolet fire truck from the War Assets
Corporation and a company banner were purchased.  At the April
meeting the volunteers reelected all the officers and added a new
title and officer, Financial Secretary Edwin Smith.  West
Babylon now had a Fire Company and a fire truck, but still did
not provide its own fire protection.
     In order to understand this, one needs to understand how
fire protection is provided on Long Island.  There are three
types of fire departments in the town of Babylon, Village Fire
Department, Fire Company, and Fire District.  The Fire Chief is
the senior officer for fire suppression and training in each
type, and is elected by the department members.  The financial
affairs are handled differently in each type of department.  The
first is the Village Fire Department.  This is a fire department
that is financed by the village residents and controlled by the
elected officials of the village.  Each year the Fire Department
submits a budget to the Village Board for approval.  The village
officials then approve or reject this budget and set the village
tax rate accordingly.  The three village fire departments in the
Town, Amityville, Babylon, and Lindenhurst have limited influence
on the purchase of equipment and buildings, they must rely on the
village officials to accept their recommendations.  The second
form of organization is the Fire Company, which is basically a
private business organization that is owned by its members and
sells its service, fire protection, to the Town Board.  It is
controlled by a board of directors who are elected by the
members.  They operate in an area of the town that is called a
Fire Protection District.  Annually, the Fire Company provides
the Town Board with a projected budget that can be accepted or
rejected.  If the Town accepts this budget, it collects this fee
through town taxes.  In theory, the Town can reject the Fire
Company's budget, but this would leave the area without any fire
protection.  All the members of the board must be members of the
company and can do almost anything they want with the money they
collect from the Town.  Most of the Fire Departments in the Town
fall into this category: East Farmingdale, North Babylon, North
Lindenhurst, North Amityville and Wyandanch.  The final type, a
Fire District, is a separate branch of the state government. 
Like a school district it has an elected Board of Commissioners
that is elected by all the residents.  The Board of Commissioners
create an operating budget each year.  If the tax rate for this
budget remains within a limit set by the state it is adopted
without a vote.  Any major changes in the tax rate and large
expenses, such as new equipment or buildings, must be approved by
the taxpayers of the district.  All funds collected by the Board
are subject to audits by the state and all equipment and
buildings are owned by the public.  While the members of the
Board do not have to be members of the fire department they
usually are and usually try to follow the wishes of the
membership.  In the Town of Babylon only Copiague, Deer Park, and
West Babylon are Fire Districts.   
     Not all Fire Protection Districts are covered by Fire
Companies.  Today, Venetian Shores, the area west of West Babylon
and East of the Village of Lindenhurst, is a Fire Protection
District protected under contract by the Lindenhurst Village Fire
Department, and the barrier beaches receive fire protection from
the Village of Babylon.  During the 1940s, West Babylon was
divided up into four Fire Protection Districts.  The District 2
and 8, in the south end were under contract to Babylon Village
and District 3 and 4 were protected by Wyandanch.  This is the
reason that the newly formed West Babylon Volunteer Fire Company
could not actively fight fires.  On June 24, 1946, the officers
of the WBVFC met with the Babylon Village Board to request
permission to handle part of the fire protection in their area,
reportedly grass fires.  At this meeting Mayor J. Vincent O'Shea
informed the attendees that the contract for fire protection was
between the Village and the Town and only the Town Board had the
authority to make any changes to it.  For the time being, the
WBVFC continued to raise funds, mainly through old newspaper
drives, train with neighboring Fire Departments, and attend
various parades as a new unit waiting for the day that they could
function as a real Fire Department.  
     Early in 1947 the members of the WBVFC acted to create an
operating fire department.  In its issue of February 13, 1947,
the Babylon Leader announced the location of the property
purchased for a fire house: "It runs from the west side of the
old Taylor Homestead on Arnold Avenue to Muncie Avenue across the
street from the Wilkane property."  This same issue reminded the
residents to call Leonard Sears at Babylon 1533-J or David
Wagner, Babylon 1396-J to have the ""Big Red" fire engine" pick
up old newspapers.  On the last Thursday of February a nine
member committee attended a meeting of the Huntington Manor Fire
Department to hear a speech on "Advice on Fire Departments" given
by State Commissioner Benjamin West.  The main topic of
discussion at the company's regular meeting in March was building
plans for the fire house.
     Possibly the most important meeting of the WBVFC held to
date was on March 17, 1947.  At this special meeting were members
of Argyle Hose Company of the Babylon Village Fire Department and
"William Thompson and R. West both Southern New York State
Fireman's Association representatives from Albany."  It was at
this meeting that a plan was developed to form an official Fire
Department and to have representatives of the WBVFC "make calls
on all people of West Babylon as soon as possible" to explain
this plan.  A few weeks later, on April 5, another meeting was
held of the WBVFC, and members of the Babylon Village Fire
Department residing in West Babylon and other taxpayers of the
community.  At this meeting a committee was formed to formulate
plans for the purchase of apparatus and equipment necessary to
maintain an "adequately equipped" fire department.  In attendance
at this meeting was Seth Cole, chairman of the Law Committee of
the New York State Volunteer Fireman's Association, who was
retained to handle legal matters of the proposed department,
William A. Thompson, president of the Southern New York Firemen's
Association, and Joseph West, Fire Commissioner of Sayville.  The
meeting closed with the announcement that petitions would be
circulated in the near future for taxpayers' approval. 
Following a meeting of this committee on April 22, a spokesman
for the group said "progress is being made and it is hoped that
in the very near future the committee will be in a position to
give the taxpayers a schedule of costs and whatever further
information they desire."  Taxpayers of the community were also
advised that the proposed fire department was an entirely new
organization and upon activation of the new department, the WBVFC
would become a company in the new organization.
     The May 15, 1947, issue of the Babylon Leader printed three
small articles in its "West Babylon Notes" column.  The article
of lasting consequence, informed the readers that Mr. and Mrs.
Ellison Driscoll had been guests at the installation dinner of
the Deer Park Fire Department.  Mr. Driscoll had been reelected
Chief of the WBVFC at its April 7th meeting.  By accepting Deer
Park Fire Department's invitation, Chief Driscoll may have
started the tradition of the West Babylon Fire Chief attending
the installation dinner of the other departments in the town. 
More importantly was the announcement that members of the WBVFC
were presenting their petition to the taxpayers and requested
everyone's cooperation.  Possibly the most important article in
the history of West Babylon was:
     Fire Eaters Special!! A special meeting of the
     West Babylon Volunteer Fire Company and the 
     Argyle Fire Company will meet at the West Babylon
     School this Friday night, (May 16).  At this
     time the two companies will make an effort to
     combine, forming the "West Babylon Fire
     Department."  All taxpayers are cordially invited
     to attend this meeting at the school.
The outcome of this historic meeting is still being felt today.
     On Friday May 16, 1947, Chairman Ellison Driscoll opened the
special meeting of the WBVFC, resident taxpayers and members of
the Babylon Fire Department by explaining that the purpose of the
meeting was to create a new fire department in the unincorporated
area of West Babylon.  He then introduced Mr. William Froehlick
of the WBVFC, who explained the present form of fire protection
for the area.  Mr Froehlich continued his talk by suggesting the
advantages to the community of having its own fire department not
only in the south end, but also in Ezra Park (north end.)  He
introduced the notion that this new fire department "would bring
a certain amount of socialibility (sic) to the community."  Next,
Mr. William Nagengast of the Babylon Village Fire Department
reminded those present that 51% of the resident taxpayers
signatures were needed on the petition to create a new fire
department before it could be presented to the Town Board.  He
also informed the meeting participants that a fully equipped and
ready to start operation had to be in existence before the Town
Board gives its decision.  At this point in the meeting Chairman
Driscoll called on Mr. Thompson and Mr. West.  Both men had
attended a previous meeting and felt that West Babylon could
support it own fire company and could lower fire insurance rates
by doing so.  They also warned that before any petitions were
presented to the Town Board, a fully equipped fire company must
be established with elected officers and a set district.  After a
question-and-answer period, Mr. Driscoll closed the meeting of
the resident taxpayers and requested Mr. West to act as Chairman
for a meeting of the WBVFC.
     In his opening remarks at the company meeting, Mr. West
informed the members that a new fire company should first select
a name that would go into its constitution and then the
membership could be divide into smaller engine and/or ladder
companies.  He also advised them to nominate a chief, a chaplain,
and, if the company owned any property, three trustees. 
Immediately after his remarks, a motion was made, seconded and
passed to name the new organization the "West Babylon Volunteer
Fire Department."  After some discussion among the members it was
decided to elect a Chief, First Assistant Chief, and a Second
Assistant Chief to a one year term, and each were to serve no
more than two consecutive terms.  A secretary, treasurer, and
three trustees were included in the slate of officers.  Under the
supervision of Mr. West the WBFD held it first election of
officers.  After the election, in which all offices except
trustees were uncontested, Mr. Thompson installed the following
officers: Ellison Driscoll, Chief; William Froehlich, First
Assistant Chief; Thomas Simon, Second Assistant Chief; Townsend
Driscoll, Secretary; Carl Blair, Treasurer; Max Ottens, George
Ketcham and William Nagengast; trustee.  Alfred Wood, who was
defeated for the office of trustee, and Thomas Simon were from
Ezra Park.
     As soon as the new officers had been installed, Chief
Driscoll took over the meeting and went right to work.  He
appointed a committee, consisting of William Nagengast, Ralph
Johnson and Alfred Wood, to draw up a set of By-Laws.  The
members voted that each member contribute one dollar to the
treasury and organize a Bazaar.  Chief Driscoll appointed William
Nagengast, William Froehlich, Mr. Ruggles and Arpad Ostheimer to
the Bazaar committee.  Next the members voted to join the
Southern New York Firemen's Association with Chief Driscoll as
delegate and Fred Heverly associate delegate and authorized the
four dollar dues be paid.  Finally, the Chief suggested that all
publicity be cleared though William Nagengast. Thus ended the
first meeting of the West Babylon Volunteer Fire Department.
     During the succeeding months, the members continued to visit
taxpayers to obtain signatures on the petitions for a new fire
district.  The department minutes for the first couple of years
shows that the members were working to create a new fire
department and at the same time acting like a full fledged fire
department.  At their July 1, 1947, meeting the Bazaar committee
reported that the Bazaar would be held on August 25th on the
"Wederidarf[sic] property" at the corner of Pine Street and
Little East Neck Road.  At this meeting the membership was
informed that William Froelich and the trustees had placed a
$50.00 deposit on a 1930 Mack fire truck owned by Franklin Squire
Munson Fire Department.  The asking price of this truck was
$2500.00.  The secretary was instructed to contact Mr. Hoag of
Suburban New York Fire Underwriters of New York City to discuss
the equipment that the department would need.  In addition to
these steps taken to create a working fire department, the
members also decided to join the Town of Babylon Firemen's
Association and to march in the Town Parade on August 2nd,
"members parading to wear dark trousers and white shirts." 
     Like most new organizations the company had some growing
pains.  At the first meeting a Bazaar Committee had been
appointed, but this committee could not handle all the work
needed to run the fire department's first bazaar.  On July 22nd,
a special meeting was held to appoint individuals to perform
specific jobs, such as the building of booths.  This meeting had
an effect that the members probably did not realize at the time;
this was the first project that these men had to work on
together.  Interestingly, a number of the men assigned to one job
-- carpentry -- became the nucleus and leaders of Company 2 when
it was formed two months later.
     The August meeting was again devoted to creating a fire
department.  This meeting was the most important for the
residents of Ezra Park (north end).  Assistant Chief Froehlich
reported that Mr. Hoag assured him that residential insurance
rates would not increase if the department had one 700 gallon
pumper with 1000 feet of hose and 1000 feet of 2 1/2 spare hose
in the present district #8 (south end).  District #3 and 4 (Ezra
Park) would require a 200 gallon booster truck housed within
three miles of the district to maintain their present tax rate. 
Mr. Hoag also informed the Chief that the department needed 15
members ready for duty at all times and suggested that the
department have trained "fire policemen." It was at this meeting
that the department was reorganized into three different
companies: Company 1, from the West Babylon Volunteer Fire
Company, Company 2, from the residents of Ezra Park, and Company
3 from the balance of men.
     The remainder of 1947 was devoted to organizing the
department and creating a fire district.  In September, each of
the three new companies held its first meeting, elected officers
and started fund raising projects.  The results of the Bazaar
were reported in November -- gross proceeds $3,561.09, total cost
$2,222.96, net profit $1,338.13.  The officers, both department
and company, met during this period as an executive committee to
purchase fire equipment and follow the instructions from Mr. Cole
to form a fire district.  For example, in November they purchased
a 1926 American La France pumper from the Village of Lindenhurst
for $100.00.  At its December meeting the executive committee
decided that each company should pick one of its members and the
department would pick two non-members to act as commissioners for
the new fire district.
     The Fire Department held its first meeting of 1948 on
January 6th.  This meeting resulted in a flurry of activity that
formed a fully functioning fire department.  At this meeting
Chief Driscoll reported that the petitions had been returned from
Mr. Seth Cole and were now in the hands of the Town Assessor for
his approval.  The companies each announced their appointment for
commissioner; Company #1 - Max Ottens, Company #2 - Alfred Wood,
and Company #3 - William Nagengast.  Charles Taylor and Thomas
Sprague were suggested as commissioners from "outside of 
department[sic]." 
     On February 3, 1948, the petition, after receiving approval
by the Town Assessor, was presented to the Town Board.  Two days
later the Babylon Leader carried Legal Notices announcing a
public hearing on February 24, 1948, to dissolve the four Fire
Protection Districts and the establishment of a new West Babylon 
Fire District.  At the public hearing all the proposals were
presented with no opposition from the public, though no action
was taken by the Town Board at that time.
     At its March meeting the members of the Fire Department
voted on three men to be nominated as the two fire commissioners
from outside of the fire department.  William McHenry and Charles
Taylor received more votes than Thomas Sprague.  Their names,
along with the three men from the companies, were sent to the
town as the department's choice for the first Board of Fire
Commissioners.
     April 20, 1948, is a significant date in the history of West
Babylon.  The April 15, 1948, issue of the Babylon Leader had
announced that the Town Clerk had notified the department that
the State Controller had approved the new Fire District.  On this
date the Town Board appointed William Nagengast, Max Ottens,
Alfred Woods, Charles Taylor, and William McHenry as the first
Fire Commissioners.  The Town Board also appointed Clarence
Johnson treasurer of the Board.  Mr. Johnson had been nominated
for this position by the Fire Department's executive board. 
The new commissioners were informed by the Town Board that they
needed to meet with the Town Clerk within ten days of their
appointment to elect officers and that their term would run until
December 31, 1948.  The Town Board set the second Tuesday in
December for the public election of Fire Commissioner.  In 1948,
five Commissioners were elected to fill terms of from one to five
years, all subsequent elections were for five year terms.
     The new Commissioners went right to work.  At the regular
monthly meeting of the Fire Department on May 7, 1948, the Board
of Fire Commissioners stated that they had elected William
Nagengast as Chairmen.  Mr. Nagengast reported that the Board had
voted to purchase the Army Truck and other property owned by the
West Babylon Volunteer Fire Company.  The Department voted to
turn over to the district all the trucks that the department had
purchased and that the district would pay the balance owed on
these trucks.  Apparently the line between District and
Department was very thin at this time.
     The big day for the new district came on August 10, 1948. 
On that day the new district held a special election to authorize
the issuance of Bonds for four Propositions.  The effects of this
election were expected to raise the tax rate to 35 cents per 100
dollars of assessed valuation up 10 cents from previous contracts
with the other Fire Departments.
     Proposition #1
          To purchase property on Arnold Avenue at an estimated                             
           cost of $1,950.00
          and construction and equipment for a Fire House at a    
           cost of $20,432.00
     Proposition #2
          To purchase property on Herzel Boulevard at an                                             
           estimated cost of $1,650.00
          and construction and equipment for a Fire House at a    
           cost of $15,000.00
     Proposition #3
          The purchase and installation of a Fire Alarm System at
          a cost of $2,500.00 
     Proposition #4
          Purchase of Fire Fighting equipment and vehicles as                                 
           follows:
          a) One American La France 500 gallon pumper at a                             
             estimated cost of $7,500.00
          b) One Chevrolet fire truck 300 gallon pumper at a cost
             of $1,250.00
          c) One American La France Type 12 pumper at a cost of         
             $400.00
          d) One American La France Hook and Ladder Truck at a          
             cost of $300.00
          e) One American La France 500 gallon pumper at a cost         
             of $500.00
          f) Equipment for the trucks at an estimated cost of           
             $6,518.00
The results of the vote was favorable:
          Proposition #1 120 to 16
          Proposition #2 115 to 20
          Proposition #3 120 to 15
          Proposition #4 121 to 15.
     Throughout this period, while the new Board of Fire
Commissioners was creating the Fire District, the members of the
Fire Department were busy.  One of the main concerns of the
department was training.  Starting when the WBVFC was formed, the
members attended Fire School at North Babylon's Hale Road Fire
House each month.  In the April 22, 1948, issue of the Babylon
Leader, an article about the new training program set up by the
Suffolk County Vocational Education and Extension Board appeared. 
This article announced that members from 44 departments in the
county had completed the program.  To receive a certificate from
the state Department of Education each man was required to attend
at least 85% of the lessons and score at least 75% on a written
examination.  Included in the list of Fire Departments that had
members receiving this certificate was West Babylon.
     The members of the department continued to raise funds,
attend parades and perform all the regular functions, except
fight fires.  At the April 8, 1948, meeting the membership
reelected all the officers for a second term except the trustees. 
The new trustees elected at this meeting were Stephen Smith, Fred
Malscheimer, and Ralph Johnson.  On May 30th the department
marched in their first Memorial Day parade in West Babylon, a
tradition that was followed until the early 1970s.  In June, the
membership voted to join the Firemen's Association of the State
of New York and in July the Suffolk County Firemen's Association. 
During the summer of 1948, the members marched in parades and
attended Bazaars at: Amityville, East Brentwood, Lindenhurst, and
Wyandanch.    
     Raising money was still a very important part of the
department's business.  Even though the community had petitioned
to create a new Fire District, they had not approved any funds
for its operation.  At almost every meeting during the year of
1948, the Fire Department was presented with bills from various
service stations for gas and oil for the trucks.  At the July
meeting it was announced that the Watch Raffle, held in May,
netted $208.75.  In 1948, the Fire Department held their Bazaar
on July 26 through the 31st.  That year the Bazaar "cleared
$2300.00 with a few outstanding bills not paid."  As small as
their treasury was, the members were still willing to spend money
for nonessential items that they felt were worthwhile.  In
September, the Fire Department paid for a picnic for the families
of its members.  In July, they voted to donate $15.00 toward a
Silver Trophy Cup for the Town Firemen's Associations tournament. 
More importantly, they purchased Three Silver Bracelets, for
$13.65, that were awarded to the Honor Students of the West
Babylon School.  Scholarships honoring academic excellence are
still donated today.
     The annual Bazaar did not end when the Fire District started
paying the department's operating expenses.  Every year this
annual event was held to raise funds for the additional expenses
of the Department that could not be paid by taxes.  When the
department started using a door to door fund drive to raise
money, the Bazaar was used to pay for a Christmas party for the
children of the Fire Department members.  This event did not
attract the interest of the younger men entering the Department
in the 1970s.  In 1977, the Fire Department held its last annual
Bazaar, and alternate means, such as Las Vegas Nights, were
developed to raise funds for the Children's Christmas Party.
     Most of the fall meetings were devoted to refining the
department's by-laws, and in purchasing chairs and kitchen
equipment for the Fire Houses that the District was building.  At
the last regular meeting of their final year as an inactive Fire
Department, the members decided to form a Hook and Ladder Company
and a Fire Patrol Company.  The final meeting of the Fire
Department in 1948 was held on December 28th "for last minute
discussion regarding fire house - trucks, etc., before taking
over Contract Jan 1st."
      At the stroke of 12 on December 31, 1948 the sirens
      on the newly-built West Babylon fire houses on Arnold       
      Avenue and Herzel Boulevard were sounded to welcome
      in the new year and to let West Babylon residents know
      that at the same time the West Babylon Fire Department had  
      finally begun to function.
This was the opening statement written by reporter J. Rinaldo in
an article titled "Bingos, Bazaars, Barn Dances Aided New Fire
Dept." that appeared in the January 13, 1949, issue of the
Babylon Leader.  This article briefly described the efforts that
the new volunteer firemen exerted in creating a new fire
department.  The original members, many of whom remained members
for the rest of their lives, were not satisfied with just
starting a new fire department - they wanted the best fire
department they could possibly have.  Almost immediately after
activating the new department, improvements began.  In January
and February they formed a Hook & Ladder Company 4 and Fire
Police Company 5.  In December the members of Company 4 purchased
an ambulance with money donated to the department for this
purpose by Babylon Village's Mayor Munson.   Beginning in the
mid-1950s, the ambulance was manned by a Rescue Squad that was
made up of men from all five companies.
     Since 1949, the Fire Department has continued to grow along
with the community.  During most of the 1950s, the majority of
fires were brush and woods type.  By the 1960s, woodlands had
been replaced by residential houses, and the "typical" fire
became a house fire, along with a few commercial structures. 
During the 1980s, the department saw another shift in its needs. 
As the community had become older the need for an ambulance
became the clear necessity.  Today there are almost four times
the number of rescue calls as fire calls.  The department has
kept up with the changes in its role in the community.  In 1959,
Company 2 was split into two companies, Company 2 and Company 6,
with one fire engine each.  By the 1970s, the growth of housing
and shopping centers south of the railroad right-of-way made a
third fire house necessary.  In 1974 Company 8 was formed in the
newly built fire house on Great East Neck Road north of Montauk
Highway.  The increased number of ambulance calls in the 1980s,
made it difficult for the firemen to handle alone.  In 1989, the
Fire Department changed its By-Laws to allow residents that did
not want to fight fires to join the department as Rescue only
members and become Emergency Medical Technicians.  This change
brought the first women into the department.  Today there over 20
women EMT members and three women firefighters.
     The Fire District has also supported the growth of the
department.  In the 1950s, in addition to replacing the old fire
equipment used to start the department with new engines, they
purchased a car for the Chief.  The new Chief's car, a 1956 Buick
costing $2,2850.50, was delivered on April 30, 1956.  The Board
of Commissioners has set up a schedule to replace each companies
pumper every 15 years and the Chief's car every two years.  In
the 1970s, the board acquired cars for all the assistant Chiefs. 
The additional work done by the rescue squad required a second
ambulance in the mid 1980s, and a third was purchased in 1995. 
Now each of the three fire houses has its own ambulance.  The
large number of Motor Vehicles that the district owned created
periods when some of the engines were sent out of the district
for repairs, thus denying the community some protection. 
Recently the district constructed a fully equipped maintenance
shop behind Station 1 and hired a full time mechanic.  In
addition, starting this year, when an engine is replaced it will
not be sold immediately, as has been past practice.  Now the old
engine will be saved, restored and retained, as a spare engine. 
This spare engine will be replaced every time a new engine is
purchased.
     Over the past fifty years the alarm system has constantly
been upgraded.  The first system consisted of a siren on each
fire house.  Later, more sirens were added around the community. 
The original members of the rescue squad received notification of
an alarm by a phone call from the group's leader.  Two events
in 1962 had a major impact on the alarm system.  The first was
the creation of Babylon Central Fire Alarm by members of the West
Babylon and Deer Park Volunteer Fire Departments.  Also in
1962, the sirens were supplemented by electronically activated
radios in each member's home.  By 1981 the department, under
pressure from the community, replaced all the sirens with
individual pagers carried by all members of the department.  The
first trucks the department had were not equipped with a radio. 
Today not only are all vehicles equipped with a radio, each piece
of equipment also carries a portable radio for the use of the
officers away from the truck or ambulance.
     Babylon Central Fire Alarm was originally set up by members
of West Babylon and Deer Park Fire Department to handle
dispatching of their fire departments after the Town Police was
replaced by the Country Police Department.  BCFA, originally a
small private business, was created to provide a dispatch office
dedicated to the fire service.  In its early years BCFA only
dispatched a few fire departments, West Babylon being a charter
member, with each department paying an annual fee for this
service.  During the past thirty-five years it has grown to
include almost every Fire Department in the Town (Amityville is
dispatched by the Village Police and East Farmingdale employs it
own dispatchers), and Wyandanch-Wheatly Heights Ambulance Corps. 
In the near future BCFA, which is now operated by the Town of
Babylon Chiefs Association, will also dispatch East Farmingdale
and the Islip Town fire department in West Islip.  BCFA provides
its member departments a complete range of services from
receiving emergency calls from the public, dispatching fire and
ambulance units, coordinating Police and public utilities
response, to providing responding fire units necessary
information, from its computer data base, about fire hydrant
locations and hazard materials stored in the burning building. 
It keeps records on all alarms and provides statistics to each
member department.  It also has provided employment to a number
of firemen, all EMT's who can give limited assistance over the
phone in medical emergencies.
     Fifty years has seen significant changes in the community
and its fire department.  In 1949, the five trucks of the West
Babylon Volunteer Fire Department responded to 73 calls.  With
the addition of an ambulance in 1950, the department responded to
183 alarms, of which 103 were for the ambulance.  Last year,
1996, with over 20 pieces of equipment the volunteers of West
Babylon answered 2541 calls for assistance from its residents.

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