Friday, 19 October 2012 00:00
The Mineola Fire Department was alerted for a reported house fire on Ellsworth Avenue on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 12:28 p.m. Dispatchers reported of multiple calls confirming that this was a working house fire. Arriving firefighters would come to recognize the involved structure as the home of one of their own, a decorated ex-chief of the Mineola Fire Department.
As Ladder 165 arrived on the scene, Lt. Carl T. Nunziata notified Firecom of the fire and also requested LIPA to go to the scene for live wires down in front of the house. Fire was engulfing the entire west side of the house as heavy smoke enveloped the neighborhood, officials said. Engine 162 arrived on scene and ex-captain Tom O’Brien manned the pump. Ex-captain Joe Neves, trustee/ firefighter Paul Cusato and firefighter Chris Goncalves stretched a supply line to the hydrant. Firefighters Michael Scala, Danny Maghalaes, Kevin Nicoll and Eric O’Brien stretched an attack line toward the home.
Firefighter John Englis and ex-chief Rob Connolly entered the home and found fire on the first floor. They controlled the fire and conducted a primary search of the first floor as they awaited the advancing hoseline, officials stated.
Ex-captain Chris Franz, firefighter Don Franz and firefighter Tom Behan searched the floor above the fire to ensure no one was in any of the bedrooms. With the fire on the first floor darkened down, Connolly and Englis headed to the attic to check for extension, fire officials said.
Heavy fire was found traveling across the rafters of the attic and a second hoseline was requested. Members of the Williston Park Fire Department (WPFD) assisted in stretching a line into the attic to attack this fire.
The second floor search team also encountered fire and a third water line was requested. Firefighters from Engine Company No. 3 had arrived and Lt. Michael S. DeStefano had firefighters R. Baughan, Bill Gresalfi and Steve Stolarik stretch the line.
Firefighters A. Klein and David Gouveia advanced this line to the second floor to control this fire. Destefano took command of the scene as Nunziata entered the house to coordinate interior operations. Mayor and ex-chief Scott Strauss also arrived on the scene and helped establish a command post as mutual aid resources arrived.
Mutual aid was received from the WPFD who provided an engine and truck to the scene. Garden City Fire Department provided an additional truck company, Garden City Park Fire Department provided a FAST Team and the Mineola Volunteer Ambulance Corp provided two ambulances. Additionally, New Hyde Park Fire Department covered Mineola’s quarters in the event of additional alarms.
With the main body of fire under control the devastation truly hit home as firefighters conducted their searches for hidden fire. Members worked to preserve valuables in the home and came upon the countless awards and mementos the chief had accrued over his 40 years of service to the Fire Department. True to his profession, the chief was most concerned that no members were injured.
Chief of Department Joseph Pratt commended DeStefano and Nunziata on the handling of the emergency. The Nassau County Fire Marshal responded to the scene and is conducting an investigation.