On Tuesday Oct. 9, 2012 at 12:28 p.m., the Mineola Fire Department was alerted for a reported house fire “next to” an address on Ellsworth Avenue.
Veteran firefighters knew that this type of report usually means they are ”going to work” and the dispatchers reports of multiple calls confirmed that this was a working house fire. Arriving firefighters would come to recognize the involved structure as the home of , a decorated Ex-Chief of the Mineola Fire Department.
As Ladder 165 arrived on the scene Lt. Carl T. Nunziata notified Firecom of the “Signal 10” working fire and also requested LIPA 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.
Engine 162 arrived on scene and Ex-Captain Tom O’Brien manned the pump. Ex-Captain Joe Neves, Mineola Village Trustee/ Firefighter Paul Cusato and Firefighter Chris Goncalves stretched a supply line to the hydrant. Firefighters Michael Scala, Danny Maghalaes, Kevin Nicoll and Eric Obrien stretched an attack line towards 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.
Ex-Captain Chris Franz, Firefighter Don Franz and Firefighter Tom Behan searched the floor above the fire to insure 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. Heavy fire was found traveling across the rafters of the attic and a second hoseline was requested. Members of the Williston Park Fire Department assisted in stretching a line into the attic to attack this fire.
The second floor search team also encountered fire and a third line was requested. Firefighters from Engine Co. No. 3 had arrived and Lt. Michael S. DeStefano had firefighters R. Baughan, Bill Gresalfi and Steve Stolarik stretch this line. Firefighters A. Klein and David Gouveia advanced this line to the second floor to control this fire. Lt. Destefano took command of the scene as Lt Nunziata entered the house to coordinate interior operations. Mayor / ex-Chief Scott Strauss also arrived on scene and helped establish a command post as mutual aid resources arrived.
Mutual aid was received from the Williston Park Fire Department, who provided an engine and truck to the scene. Garden City Fire Department provided an additional truck company, a FAST Team and the Mineola Volunteer Ambulance Corp. provided two ambulances.
Additionally, the 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 the Lieutenants DeStefano and Nunziata on their handling of the emergency. The Nassau County Fire Marshal responded to the scene and is conducting an investigation.