FREEPORT. HOSTS NAVY SAILING PROGRAM
With the benefit of a good wind and a clear summer sky,
August 5 was the perfect day for the four sailing vessels from the
U.S. Naval Academy's Summer Training Program to dock in the
Village of Freeport. Mayor Bill Glacken and the Board.of Trustees
played host to the forty young men and women who sailed the 44-
foot sloops from the. Chesapeake Bay and were heading on up to
Newport on their last trip of the season.
Freeport Mayor Bill Glacken presenting the official key to the Village to the group's command-ing
officer, Lt. Jim Sprungle
"We learned about the program from Gary Quilliam, who is a
member of the Freeport Village Landmarks Preservation
Commission,11 explained Mayor Glacken. "We heard that the
Academy runs the sailboat training program every summer and that
it was considering changing its itinerary this year to stop at one of
the seaport towns on Long Island rather than in New York City again,
so we invited them to Freeport."
Hundreds of calls from Director of Tourism, Kathleen Keating,
and thousands of details later, Freeport became a "port of call" for
the 40 midshipmen and their instructors. A Coast Guard boat with
Deputy Mayor Renaire Frierson-Davis and Trustees Bill White and
Don Miller aboard met the sailboats at the Jones Inlet to provide an
escort to Woodcleft Canal.
There was a warm welcome from the crowd of well-wishers on
the dock to meet the midshipmen along with members of the
Annapolis parents' organization. The midshipmen, along with a
number of local Freeport community leaders and members of the
'parents group, including former Freeport Police Officer Joe Stephens
and his wife Cathy, took part in a paddleboat ride around Freeport's
waterways, the dinner that followed at Pier 95 and the breakfast the
next morning at Trudy B's. The parents' group assists local commu-nities
in hosting the midshipmen whenever they come to town. The
Stephenses have two children attending the Naval Academy.
Another couple, Gary and Linda Lennon, serve as co-presidents of
the LI Parents Club.
On board one of the sailing boats as a trainer was Captain Dave
Hoffman, a Korean War Veteran and former Vietnam POW, Capt.
Hoffman volunteers for the training program each summer because
he said he finds working with the young midshipmen extremely
A number of local organizations and businesses donated ser-vices
or helped out during the visit; and we wish to extend a special
thank you to everyone, including Gerri Roberts of Pier 95, Trudy
Captain Dave Hoffman and Freeport Director of Tourism Kathi Keating
Coast Guard Warrant Officer Kevin Galvin, Lt. Jim Sprungle, Capt. Dave Hoffman, Trustee Don
Miller, Deputy-Mayor Renaire Frierson-Davis, Mayor Bill Glacken, Dave Freeman, Bob
Cardinale and Trustee Bill White.
Blanck ofjrudy B's, Mike Dannon of Freeport Nautical Cruises,
Laidlaw Bus Transport for helping take the midshipmen to the
Hofstra University Dormitory. A special word of thanks to Ray
Malone for arranging the overnight stay at Hofstra, and to American
Eagle and Freeport Motor Inn for donating towels and soap, and
Mike Raab for creating the great "Go Navy, Beat Army" banner.
The group's commanding officer, Lt. Jim Sprungle, accepted a
key to the Village from Mayor Glacken, and thanked everyone for
their kindness and hospitality. "We have enjoyed the very special
welcome and hospitality we received here in Freeport," said Lt.
Sprungle, "and I certainly plan to recommend that the training pro-gram
return to Freeport next summer for a 3 to 4 day stay."
Freeport is looking forward to welcoming another group of
midshipmen in 1999.
AWARDED MEDAL OF HONOR
"Think of climbing into an oven and closing the door behind
you." That is how Fire Chief Arthur Burdette described Firefighter
Matthew Merecka's brave efforts to. save_78;year_old Elizabeth _.
White from her burning house on Columbus Avenue during a
blazing fire last December. Merecka pulled Mrs. White from the
burning house. Unfortunately, she did not survive; but his heroism
earned him the highest award of the New York State Fireman's
Association at ceremonies held in upstate New York in August.
Matt Merecka, a lifelong
Freeport resident, is the first Freeporter
to earn the prestigious award. Merecka
was also named Freeport Firefighter of
the Year for 1997 and received the
Medal of Valor from the Nassau County
Fire Commission in recognition of his
The Freeport Fire Department
was also recognized as the 1998 New
York State Parade Champions in the
upstate competition. Chief Burdette
Matthew Merecka, Firefighter reported Freeport had 134 members
Freeport Engine 216
Standing proud in front of Freeport's Fire Department Headquarters
marching in the event, and was judged "best appearing" by the
parade committee. The department took the Nassau County champi-onship
with 183 members participating in early July, and went on to
win the Second Battalion event with 225 members later that month.
WHO IS THE TYPICAL VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER?
Probably not whom you would expect.
Freeport has 350 members of its volunteer
fire department. It's a popular myth that most
firefighters are in their teens; however,
the actual numbers show that the average age
is 39 years old. The largest age group is
29-year-olds and only five members of the
department are in their teens, between 18
and 19 years old. The two oldest members are
81 and 77 years old.
Firefighters are required to take more
than 80 hours of initial training and are certi-fied
by New York State. The training continues
with yearly refresher courses mandated by the
federal Occupational Safety and Health Agency
(OSHA.) This training includes classes in safety,
hazardous materials, blood borne pathogens
and self-contained breathing apparatus.
Many members provide specialized
services such as Emergency Medical Technicians,
SCUBA divers, high angle rope rescue, building
collapse, fire truck driving and fire boat
handling which require further instructions.
These programs are in addition to standard
instructions for everyone in the maintenance of
fire trucks, tools and equipment.
Being a volunteer firefighter is demand-ing,
but the rewards are worth it.
Youngsters tried out the child carrier at last year's Fire Department Expo.
SCUBA TEAM TRAINED BY THE BEST
As parents, we all want our children to be safe. When it
comes to dangerous situations, we want to teach them how to
react without causing anxiety or fear. I believe the best way to
ensure that they learn about safety, is to provide instruction in
a secure and friendly atmosphere where the child may absorb
the facts in a simple step-by-step program.
That is why I'm urging you to attend the Fire Department
Expo on October 11 with your children. Our volunteer fire-fighters
will be there to teach them what to do in case of a
fire, demonstrate life-saving equipment and help youngsters
learn the important information that could save their lives or
yours in an emergency. At least once a month, we read a
newspaper article or hear a television news story about a small
child who called for help when a parent or other adult col-lapsed.
It is critical that our children know how to respond to
an emergency before one occurs.
Teaching children how to djal 91_1,_give their,name,
address, telephone number and parents' name is just as
important as learning how to count, recite the alphabet, tie
their shoelaces or tell time. Please join me and my family
along with Deputy Mayor Renaire Frierson-Davis and Trustees
Don Miller and Bill White Jr., at the Fire Expo program at the
Recreation Center on Sunday, Oct. 11, from 12 noon to 4 p.m.
THE WHALE PROGRAM
COMES TO FREEPORT
What is the WHALE program? It is an
identification and information system for
young children. The initials'Stand for We
Have A Little Emergency and the pro-gram
provides an information label that
is attached to the rear of a child's car
seat. In the event of a serious accident,
emergency personnel are able to deter-mine
the youngster's vital information
"In today's mobile society, with both
parents working, we often find that
young children in car seats are riding
with various adults, including grandpar-ents,
baby-sitters or neighbors,"
explained Assistant Fire Chief Paul
Hashagen. "The WHALE sticker enables
us to identify the child quickly, locate the
youngster's parents and alerts us to exist-ing
medical conditions. The sticker has a
place for a photo of the child so rescuers
can tell if a different youngster is actual-ly
using the car seat."
Chief Hashagen added, "In 1994,
more than 5,000 children under age
four were injured in auto accidents New York State, seventeen of these
youngsters died. Emergency medical
personnel need all the important
information they can obtained about
these accident victims as quickly and
accurately ^as possible. The WHALE
program is going to help us save lives."
WHALE stickers are attached to the
side rear windows of the vehicle and the
sides of the car seat. The stickers and
information label will be available, FREE,
at the Fire Expo on October 11, 1998 the Recreation Center at 12 noon.
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The volunteer firefighter are: standing back row from the left, A.T. Von Wicklen, Rick Layton, Scott Braun, scuba instructor, Arthur Burdette,
Anthony Furnari, Dave Harrison. Kneeling, front row from the left, scuba instructor, Lee Tucholski, Michael O'Connor, Rich Laudman, John Fee.
World renowned scuba instructor, Walt "Butch"
Hendricks, a former U.S. Navy SEAL, spent the week of
May 14 training the fire department's Underwater
Search and Rescue Team. Hendricks, who helped set up
NY City's SCUBA Team, has been honored by a number
of prestigious organization and has received the
"Greenstone Award" for SCUBA instructor of the year.
Hendericks brought his team of instructors to
Freeport to train 8 firefighter-divers and several surface
personnel in an intense 32 hour course. The divers were
certified in RAPID DEPLOYMENT SEARCH AND RESCUE
and BLACK WATER RESCUE. The courses challenge the
divers to operate both on land and underwater quickly
and safely. Divers are timed on their ability,to rapidly
don their equipment and get into position to enter the
The more difficult BLACK WATER program trains
divers to operate underwater with zero visibility.
Each diver worked tethered to another person on the
surface known as a tender. This method ensures an accu-rate
search and provides communication with the
instructors. The divers were outfitted with electronic
communications devices, and were also trained to
use line tug signals as a backup. Tenders and divers
worked together covering designated areas in well-coordinated
search patterns. They learned techniques
for interviewing witnesses and how to stage and
operate an underwater search pattern. At the end of
the week, everyone agreed that the course was
extremely difficult, but very rewarding.
ANNUAL FIRE EXPO
All the favorite displays from past Fire Expo events
will be back Saturday, October 11, along with some new
events including displays and demonstrations of high
angle rope rescues, the jaws-of-life equipment used to
free trapped auto accident victims, the fire department
ambulance and the underwater search and rescue team.
Fire safety literature, plastic fire helmets and other
free items will be given away on a first come first served
basis. Some lucky attendees will also win valuable prizes.
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