Fire News’ Publisher Frank Trotta, and Executive Editor Tim Edwards recently took a trip to the Bellport Fire Museum.
For those who don’t know, the original Bellport Fire House was built in 1893 on South Country Road. In 1937, it was moved to the rear lot facing Woodruff Street to make way for the new updated building. By 1975, when it was time to expand, the building was either to be demolished or moved.
The fire department was able to have it moved to a lot in the historic district of the village on Bell Street, the former site of a historical barn, which had been moved to the Bellport Brookhaven Historical Society property just across the way. The land is now leased from the Village of Bellport at no cost to the department.
The building sat for years, with the eventual hopes of creating a historical fire museum, the dream of member Ed Bishop, who died in October 2015. Picking up where Bishop left off, member, past-Chief and current Commissioner Richard Terwilliger, and lifetime department and historical committee members Bill Hermus, Jr., and Pete J. Didio, decided to take on the project during the Covid-19 lockdown. They started the renovations in November and finished in March 2021.
During the time in between, the building was thoroughly rehabbed and restored.
Housed inside the museum, the four antique trucks collected by the department, including a 1935 Chevrolet American LaFrance hose truck; a 1943 Chevrolet WWII surplus truck, a 1981 Chevrolet pumper; and an 1893 hand-drawn hook-and-ladder carriage, are all waiting to be used in parades and special ceremonies. The Gleason and Bailey carriage was fully restored in 1973, and hand painted.
The upstairs of the museum is now fully renovated, with painted white-and-green walls, display cases and photo murals, a backroom and a bathroom. Pictures include almost every fire throughout the years, including the 1963 Bellport High School Fire, 1972 Lace Mill fire in Patchogue, the 1983 Grucci Fireworks Plant explosion, and the 1995 wildfires. Also among the collection are historical pieces, including trophies, flags, gear, memorabilia and the evolution of the radio system. The space was formerly a recreation room for members.
A soft opening was held recently, with intentions for the museum to be open to the public on special occasions and on some weekends to be announced.
– Fire News photos by Bryan Lopez
This is the first feature of an on-going series, wherein Fire News will highlight fire museums on Long Island who are preserving the history of the fire service.