Blaze Puts Celebration On Backburner


The Mineola Fire Department’s motto has been “Drop everything and respond…The fire picks the time!” That was certainly true on June 4 when the department responded to a house fire on Jackson Avenue, right before the installation of their new officers.

Second Assistant Chief Robert Connolly was first on the scene and encountered a heavy volume of fire emanating from the second floor of the home. Residents of the block were unsure if all occupants of the home had safely exited, so Connolly donned his gear and entered the home. Assistant Chief Brian Santosus arrived on scene and joined the search. Chief of Department Jeff Clark arrived and established a command post, directing the responding units. FDBlaze__AThe tremendous body of fire on the second floor was dropping embers down to the first floor, resulting in an additional fire which erupted, blocking access to the front door. Knowing that his assistant chiefs were on the second floor searching for victims, Clark directed the first arriving engine company to immediately use tank water to suppress the exterior fire, which might otherwise have trapped the chiefs.

As the first blaze was contained, Engine One Lt. Michael Fernandes and his crew pushed their hose up the stairs to join the chiefs on the fire floor. Engine Company Three also arrived on scene. Lt. Sandy Sonera and Lt. Kevin Peireira stretched a backup line and insured that an adequate water supply was in place. Truck Two Lt. Bryan Strauss and Lt. Spencer Wolf led their crews to conduct searches of the entire house, ensuring that no one was inside. This was particularly challenging because the heavy fire conditions had burned through the ceiling into the attic floor, weakening the floor boards. Captain Andrew Martone coordinated truck company operations on these upper floors, checking for hidden pockets of fire in the walls. The exterior fire extended up into the roof rafters on the high peaks of the attic. The department’s newest apparatus, Tower Ladder 168, was easily able to access this location and give the firefighters a safe platform to overhaul the fire.

After containing the fire and checking for extension, Mineola firefighters took leave to attend their dinner. Among the highlights this evening was the recognition of firefighter William McGuire and ex-captain George Rowe for 25 years of service. Mineola Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary named member Lori Williams their Lady of the Year. Ex-captains Carl T. Nunziata and Domingos Maghalaes were also honored for their time as captains and Dr. Franklin Johnson was recognized for his nearly 40 years as department surgeon.

FDBlaze__BThe conclusion of the program was the announcement of the Firefighter of the Year. Clark first took a few moments to comment on the tremendous effort of the membership at the earlier fire. The chief recognized that the ability to mitigate these dangerous and dynamic events comes through constant training. Whether on a company or department level, the Mineola Fire Department consistently works to enhance their knowledge and hone their skills. One of the biggest proponents of the benefits of drilling is the Training Committee Chairmen, firefighter Jack Stagnari. A career firefighter, Stagnari came to MFD after retiring from another department a bit west of Mineola. His passion for training and dedication to the fire service were some of the reasons that he was selected to coordinate training at MFD. Stagnari works with the chiefs staff and company officers to develop interesting and relevant drills each month. These have included large scale drills at apartment buildings in Mineola, exercises involving the Winthrop campus and smaller scale trainings inside the firehouse. He ensures that each topic is well researched and provides timely information to assist the firefighters. For his dedication to insuring that the Mineola Fire Department remains highly trained, Stagnari was named Firefighter of the Year.

—Submitted by the Mineola Fire Department

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