The gratification that comes from using your skills and training to rush to the aide of the community is priceless.
Jamie Magerle
Hook & Ladder Co.


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Halesite Fire Department Mourns Ex-Chief and 62-Year Member Harry Hyne

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Officers and members of the Halesite Fire Department are mourning the loss of Ex-Chief and 62-Year member Harry Hyne. Harry passed away last Sunday, September 5, 2010, after a lengthy illness.

Simply put, Harry Hyne was a fixture in the Halesite Fire Department whose tireless service and dedication helped evolve the fire department into the modern service organization it is today.

Harry Hyne was born on October 18, 1930 and grew up on the five-acre Edmonds Estate overlooking Huntington Bay. Harry first became acquainted with Halesite when he was in a Boy Scout Troup sponsored by the department.

Years later he joined the Hose Rescue Company in 1948. He was elected Lieutenant and Captain of the Company and eventually became Chief in 1960-1961. Over the years he served the Company as a Trustee, including a stint as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for one year. After serving as Chief, Harry later returned to serve the Hose Company again, first as Lieutenant and then as Captain.

Harry’s many years of service saw tremendous change in Halesite. And Harry didn’t just observe change in Halesite, he led it.

In 1957, for instance, Harry, along with John Romonowski, John Whaley, Clem Schryver and Dan Reddy, created Halesite’s Underwater Rescue Team. Halesite joined Cold Spring Harbor in being among the first fire departments on Long Island to have such a capability.

Harry recalled that the team trained in a large swimming pool at Shephard Day School located on the Kroft property adjacent to Golf Lane. Other exercises took place off of the Bay Club and Bay Hills in Huntington Bay. Harry also recalled diving off the back of Roger Ketcham’s motorsailer and practicing around a sunken Star sailing vessel. Harry would personally set up the buoys and search patterns so the members could keep up their skills.

In 1958, Harry was among the men who converted an amphibious “Duck” from the Army into a water-based firefighting vessel. Harry worked with Bill Kaiser, Dick Colligan, Roy Olson and John Romanowski to outfit the Duck for department use. Harry recalled that members “sanded it down and cleaned it up to make it useful.” Once renovated, the Duck was painted red and white and kept in the rear of the 1924 firehouse.

In 1961, Halesite was among the first fire departments on Long Island to install a telephone alarm system thanks, in large part, to Harry. Many people who grew up in firefighting families still remember the telephone alarm system. Its purpose was to supplement the existing sirens located around the fire district. New York Telephone Company installed the system in Halesite while Harry Hyne was Chief. It allowed all 80 members of the department to be summoned simultaneously to any alarm with just the dialing of a code by the dispatcher. Halesite was first in the Town of Huntington to install this telephonic paging system and only the second department in Suffolk County.

During his term as Chief there were many memorable and challenging fires. Several were mutual aid calls to neighboring departments. For instance, Halesite joined Huntington Fire Department at both the Stop and Shop fire in 1960 and the Lee and Abbott store fire three months later. Halesite also participated in the enormous October 1961 fire at the Wilton Wood barn on West Shore Road. Harry was in charge at serious house fires on Harmony Road and on Knollwood Road and was 1st Assistant Chief during the famous Huntington Yacht Club fire in 1959.

In an interesting brush with history, the estate Harry grew up on was broken into smaller lots in 1953 and sold. Another Harry moved into the Edmonds mansion at that time and went on to raise a family there until his untimely death in 1981. That Harry was none other than Harry Chapin, the singer and songwriter.

Most people are familiar with the fact that Halesite has long had a softball team. Not surprisingly, Harry was a member of this team. But did you know that Halesite had a Ping Pong team too? Well, we did. Not surprisingly, given his commitment to Halesite, Harry was a part of this team as well. Harry was also part of Halesite’s horseshoe team—another sport to gain popularity among the men in the late 1950’s. Not satisfied to just be a member of the team, Harry built a horse shoe court inside a small fenced-in area behind the 1924 firehouse so the men could practice.

When duty called, you could call on none better than Harry Hyne. In March of 1963 Harry made a water rescue in the freezing water off of the Town Dock. The rescue began when Harry, Andy Blanda, John Romanowski, and Buddy Johnson retired to the Harbor Inn following a small fire earlier that evening. A female patron at the bar looking distraught left the building. As she was walking across the parking lot to her car she unexpectedly changed course and made a run towards the harbor. Seeing this unfold Harry and the rest of the members ran after her. When Harry got to the harbor’s edge he saw bubbles coming from below and immediately jumped in and rescued her from the mud. Harry was recognized for saving the woman’s life by the Board of Fire Commissioners with a first ever “Commissioners Award for Outstanding Service by a Fireman”.

Later in 1963, one of Halesite’s most widely published saves took place. On August 19th a 21-year old Huntington Station man was shocked back to life by applying a batronic resuscitator. Special recognition was given to the five firemen who operated the equipment: Steve Damon, Hewlett Johnson, Andrew Blanda, Asst. Chief Jack Gibson and Harry Hyne.

On June 2, 1965, Halesite responded to another of its most widely reported alarms. At 8:30 a.m., a 32 year-old Riverhead man fell approximately 50 feet when attempting to paint the inside of the 150 foot tall water tank on Glenview Place. The victim had fallen to the bottom of the tank and was seriously injured.

Harry, John Thompson and a Suffolk Count Police Department Officer descended the tank to give the victim first aid. Given the small hole at the top of the tank it became clear that the patient, now in a stokes basket, had to be removed some other way. Harry suggested that Chief Colligan get his acetylene torch from home and cut out a wide enough hole in the pipe running to the base of the tank. The victim was lashed tightly to the stretcher and successfully lowered through the pipe from the bottom of the tank to safety.

In January 1970 Harry was recognized again, this time for his work in leading several of Halesite’s firefighters in resolving trouble with the Huntington Yacht Club’s gas tanks. A Gulf Oil Company representative presented a donation of $350 to the department in recognition of the then Fire Inspector Hyne’s “unselfish service.”

In addition to being a volunteer, Harry also worked for the Halesite Fire District. Beginning in 1958, Harry became a full-time dispatcher. Twenty-eight years later, he retired as the district’s first foreman. Harry fondly recalls that Rog Ketcham, Sr. asked him to become foreman “because he was receiving too many calls for things like when there was no more toilet paper left.”

As this story suggests, Harry had a terrific and sometimes irreverent sense of humor. Another story that captures this occurred in the late 1960’s when brush fires were very common. During this period Halesite’s housemen wouldn’t bother to page out minor brush fires. Instead, they would send out whoever was on hand at that time.

On one of these occasions, Harry was dispatching when a small brush fire was called in. Pete Holly was in headquarters at the time so Harry asked him to handle it. Pete agreed and took 222—the International—to put the fire out himself. Before leaving, Pete asked Harry to watch his Godson at the firehouse. Harry agreed and shortly after extinguishing the fire, Pete got on the radio and gave a Signal 4—alarm under control. Harry then told four-year-old Tom Holly to respond back, “Roger on your 4” over the airwaves. Tom did and boy did Harry have a big laugh. Years later, after Tom became Chief, Harry said that it was Tom’s first experience on the radio.

In addition to working as dispatcher and then foreman, Harry served many years as Halesite’s Fire Inspector. During Town of Huntington Fire Inspector meetings, Harry met a little known photographer at the time named Steve Silverman. They became friends and Harry gave Steve his first set of turnout gear to use when taking pictures at working fires.

Harry was also among the few men who maintained the Fox, Halesite’s much beloved antique fire truck. During this period, no task was too big or too small for Harry. At one point Harry changed one of the Fox’s axels and installed signal lights. Harry even drove the Fox to its last fire in the winter of 1965.

During Harry’s many decades in Halesite he was in charge of driving training and participated in virtually every major truck purchase. He helped craft Halesite’s Air Raid Warning system during the 1950’s and helped shape how Halesite’s Lifetime membership Company works today. Harry participated in numerous committees too including card playing, basketball, pool, children’s holiday party, adult holiday party, Christmas tree sale, Boy Scouts, blood drive, dance, picnic and operation EDITH—just to name a few. Harry also found time to work the Beer Booth at the department’s annual carnival.

In Harry’s later years he remembered fondly the old Company cook-outs behind the 1924 firehouse. “The grill,” he recalls, “was set-up over the old cesspool cover. We would then get a big roast beef and open it up to all. A dollar would get you all the beer and roast beef you could eat.“

As the years marched on and Harry’s ability to respond to alarms waned, he still stayed active as the department’s photographer. In a measure of Harry’s love for Halesite, he wasn’t content on just taking a few pictures at calls. Instead, he purchased a state-of-the art SLR camera and set up a small photography studio nearby the ice machine in the fire house basement. He took thousands of pictures faithfully until his body would no longer permit him to serve in this capacity any more.

It is often said that the fire service is a “brotherhood”. Well, that’s only true when people like Harry make the firehouse feel like family. Over his six decades in Halesite, Harry did things to bring people together and make everyone’s contribution feel special. Indeed, Harry’s contribution over the past 62 years is so great that it reads like a veritable history of the Halesite Fire Department itself. Harry has left an indelible mark not only on our history, but also on those who have had the pleasure of knowing him. He will be greatly missed.




The Chief is always available to answer any Halesite FD and saftey here.



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