At 6:20 p.m. on Saturday, March 20, the East Meadow Fire Department (EMFD) Dispatch alerted Stations 3, 4 and Ladder 1 to a report of a house fire on Foster Lane in the Salisbury section of Westbury.
At 6:22 p.m., 1st Assistant Chief Paul Kosiba, in close proximity to the call location, transmitted his response. When he arrived one minute later he immediately announced a “Signal 10” to signify a working fire with general alarm assignment, adding Engines 1, 2, and Rescue 5, as well as a host of mutual aid assignments.
Also on the road were Assistant Chief Peter Cheswick and Chief of Department James Walsh.
At 6:24 pm Engine Company 4 would be the first company out and “first due.”
As Assistant Chief Kosiba established command, and Assistant Chief Cheswick geared up for the battle, Engine 614 connected to the fire hydrant and stretched attack lines as sirens from the balance of the initial alert drew closer.
Ladder 619, Engine 613, and Ladder 617 arrived next and joined Engine 4 as the fire and heavy smoke violently churned out all the openings with a turbulent look on the left side of the home.
Across the radio came the notification that “everyone is out of the house.”
Over the next few minutes Engine 612, Engine 611, and Rescues 4 and 5 filled the street.
With water on the fire, the main areas began to “darken down” as ladder company crews worked to expose the many hidden pockets of fire, some briefly extending into the house’s second floor.
Within 25 minutes the fire was declared under control, as firefighters continued on with their breathing air tanks to protect themselves from the toxins in the smoke.
As the smoke began to clear, the fruits of hard work could be seen. Although the home suffered extensive smoke, heat and water damage, firefighters were able to prevent the fire itself from taking hold of the entire home.
At the left side and rear of the home the violent nature of this fire could be seen long after the fire was extinguished, with exterior walls burned through, the home next door suffering melted siding and fencing, and the ensuing brush fire in the rear yard.
In all, 76 EMFD volunteers battled the blaze with another 30 firefighters from Westbury, North Bellmore, Wantagh, Hicksville and Levittown either coming to the scene or covering East Meadow’s emptied fire stations.
The Nassau County Fire Marshal was on scene to determine the cause, as was PSE&G to cut the power, Nassau County police for crowd control, and the EMFD Ladies Auxiliary, who served energy fluids to firefighters.
—Submitted by John J. O’Brien, East Meadow Fire Department