Oceanside Fire Department earns several honors


The Oceanside Fire Department was among several departments honored at the Nassau County Fire Commission awards ceremony at the Krasnoff Theatre at LIU CW Post on April 23.

Along with Oceanside, the Freeport, Rockville Centre, Sea Cliff, East Meadow, Wantagh, Lawrence Cedarhurst, East Rockaway and North Merrick Fire Departments were among those that were recognized for individual and department honors.

The Oceanside Fire Department members were recipients of the Silver and Bronze Medal of Valor along with the department receiving Fire unit citations for their exceptional service during two critical incidents.

The first incident, a building fire on Oct. 26, 2023, tested the resolve of the department’s members. As flames engulfed the structure, firefighters Brian Ferucci and Chris Klein found themselves trapped and injured amid the chaos.

Several members of the department responded to rescue their comrades. Among those recognized with the Silver Medal of Valor for their efforts were assistant chief Sean Lynch, captain Patrick Massimillo, and firefighter Kyle Ambruso. Additionally, former chief Patrick Madden, captain William Sitzman, firefighter Chris Karalis, and firefighter Charles Kreuzburg were awarded the Bronze Medal of Valor for their actions during the harrowing ordeal.

“It’s very humbling,” said assistant chief Sean Lynch. All the members of the department really do it because they’re just mostly driven for service and to be part of a team. They don’t really seek this stuff out, but it is humbling when they are recognized. They put in a tremendous amount of time. It’s not just answering calls, it’s the training that they have to do to stay as a certified firefighter. It’s a big commitment.”

The second incident, on Nov. 13, involved a woman who became trapped under a school bus, which required a coordinated rescue effort.The actions of numerous members, including assistant chief Sean Costigan, former chief Charles Daskalakis, Captain Matt Regan, captain Jonathan Brooks, lieutenant Josh Engel, lieutenant Angela St. Martin, and several others, ensured the extrication of the trapped woman.

Their collective efforts, alongside those of fire medic Jack Behar, ex-captains William Sitzman, Thomas Regan, Stephen Bendel, Paul Agruso, Zach Schwartz, Daniel Brooks and firefighters Chris Karalis, Sal Rivas, Sean Regan, Rob Pav, Kyle Ambruso, James Brussell and Jason Love culminated in a life-saving outcome.

“Everybody’s lives around here are very hectic as it is and the little piece of free time that they have left, they’re devoting most of it, to stay trained and stay certified and be able to respond effectively in these types of emergencies,” Lynch remarked. “It’s a big commitment for an all-volunteer fire department, that the members make.

Lynch, a stalwart member of the department for 32 years, underscored the importance of community service and the tireless commitment of volunteer firefighters.

With the need for volunteers at a high, Lynch highlighted the department’s innovative approach to recruitment, including the successful implementation of a junior firefighter program aimed at nurturing future generations of responders.

“Originally we started off with 25 and now we’ve grown to over 30,” he said. “ We’re keeping their interest right now. We’re training them and then when they get old enough, we bring them up to the big leagues, when they turn 18 and they become a fully active firefighter and it’s working so far. It’s looking like it’s going to be very, very helpful for us, and then when they come in they’ve had two years, sometimes even more, to get trained and acclimated. You’re giving a fire company a trained firefighter who can start on day one, which is a great asset.”

The Oceanside Fire Department held an post-ceremony celebration at EGP Oceanside and will host its own ceremony to honor members’ additional personnel in the upcoming months.