It is with deepest regret that the Officers and members of Engine Company 2, together with the Board of Fire Commissioners, Chief's Office, and officers and members of the East Meadow Fire Department, announce the passing of Dominick Santoro, an iconic Fire Chief from Engine Company 2.
Born on May 30, 1923, Dominick's journey through his younger years would lead him to a life of success and honor.
At 18, Santoro joined the East Meadow Fire Department and was issued badge #222. Not long after, he would be called on to serve our county in World War II. He fought for our freedom in the invasion of Normandy, and received a Purple Heart.
Years later, when Santoro returned home, his participation on the EMFD Meadowlarks racing team netted East Meadow it's first New York State championship in 1946.
In the following years, Santoro became a part of the East Meadow Fire Department Marching Band, playing the saxophone in Fire Department marching competitions.
In 1947, Santoro was elected first lieutenant of Engine Company 2 and moved up to first lieutenant in 1950 and captain in 1951.
In 1948, Santoro married his sweetheart Frances Winicki. Her father, uncle, and brothers, also served as volunteer firefighters in the EMFD, as did Santoro's brother Thomas. Santoro and Winicki would prosper in their marriage of nearly 70 years, raising three successful children before Winicki 's passing in 2016.
A man of character, displaying all the attributes of a leader, Santoro was elected to the position of second assistant chief in 1952, first assistant chief in 1953, and on to chief of department in both 1954 and 1955.
In 1954, Chief Santoro would be instrumental behind establishing East Meadow's Engine Company "Standard Operating Guidelines". With few enhancements, those guidelines remain in place today, for its precise evolution of connecting to a fire hydrant and stretching hose lines during a major fire.
Not long after, he formed Engine Company 1 and Ladder Company 2. With our Mitchell Air base occupying the far Northwest corner of our fire district, Chief Santoro's reign would be met with tragedy as he commanded our department at the Barbara Drive plane crash.
A bricklayer by trade, Chief Santoro was met with challenge when an agreement was made to build a new Fire Station 3, on the corner of Newbridge Road and Carnation Road. A challenge met then, which remains a vital part of protecting our community, as well as large area of Levittown today.
In his years after serving as our chief, Santoro moved forward once more serving as Fire Commissioners for two terms. In later decades, Santoro remained an integral part of Engine Company 2. A strong company, backed by a rich history, and disciplined members, it's no doubt that a man like Ex-Chief Santoro played a role in such company attributes.
In November 2011, Ex-Chief Santoro received the Town of Hempstead Firematic Award for his seven decades of service to our community. In that same year, he was named "Division Marshal," leading a division in the 6th Battalion Parade through the streets of East Meadow.
His honor to our country would never fade. Just a few years before his ailing health, Santoro could be seen stepping out of the East Meadow High School each Memorial Day for the start of the community parade, he would march past his brothers and sisters of the East Meadow Fire Department, who would break out into cheers for our military, and for a man who represented so much to our community.
When the time came to attend a funeral of any East Meadow firefighter who had also served in our military, Chief Santoro, upon his turn, would stand before the casket and state, "Farewell Comrade". His own personal tribute from one American hero to another.
But in his later years, Santoro's health began to fail. He could no long participate in the manner he had for so long.