A brief story of the West Islip Fire Department by Ex-Chief Al Waters
To this day, the West Islip Fire Department is the culmination of a dream that originated with the Schwartz family in the year 1951. Lou Schwartz, along with his mother, Emma, and his wife Agnes, gave the founding members a home by donating the use of a barn on their property on Horton Street. The first truck was actually purchased by Mrs. Schwartz with her own monies, and housed in the "Barn" which was actually the second floor of the carriage house on the Guggenheim estate. The structure was moved to the Schwartz property and officially became the startup of the Causeway Acres Association Fire Protection Company.
The membership grew as word was circulated that a fire department was being formed, and an attraction for membership was the rights to using lakefront beach at what is today called Kime Lake. The original members would venture out every Sunday to neighboring fire departments where they "acquired" the necessary equipment to outfit their trucks with firefighting gear.
They eventually built a fire station on Watts place, which still exists as Station One. In 1958, they purchased a building on Chestnut Street and began staffing it with members living South of the railroad tracks. In 1959 they submitted a bid to provide fire protection to all of West Islip, which has been previously protected by both the Babylon and North Babylon Fire Departments.
In order to qualify as a fire department, capable of protecting the entire area, several requirements mandated newer equipment, and more equipment including radios and an alarm system. The trustees realized that this equipment was needed prior to taking over the entire area and they ordered new pumpers, radios, and fire fighting gear. When the bills came in, it was evident that they would have to change over to a fire district, and in 1960, the Board of Fire Commissioners was elected. The fire district could then establish a tax base capable of paying off the equipment on order.
Today, as the youngest fire department in the town of Islip, we have grown to a first class fire and rescue service that provides protection to a hospital, 13 schools, a nursing facility, and 8,500 separate structures. As the saying goes. "You've come a long way baby".