It would be the year of 1951 when Lou Schwartz along with his wife and his mother decided that the area needed a Fire Department. Lou gathered a few neighbors and started to form what is now the West Islip Fire Department. The first trucks were purchased by Mrs. Emma Schawrtz and Engine One and Engine Two were formed. These two companies eventually became the Vanguard Engine Company in 1958.
The two companies were originally housed in a barn on Horton street in the rear of the Schwartz property. The barn was the top of the stable of the Guggenheimer estate which had been removed and transported to the Schwartz property. The building had no heat except for an old kerosene stove which required constant watching to make sure the equipment did not freeze. There were no fire hydrants for miles and the nearby Guggenheim Lake was the only supply of water to the new fire department. Members had a duty roster that required them to check the kerosene heater and to go to the lake and keep a hole in the ice to allow access to the water. This duty earned them the nickname "the ice choppers".
With the ever expanding fire department, there came a need for more space and property was purchased on the corner of Watts place and Udall road, and a firehouse was built which is now Station One. The two engine companies were joined by Hook and Ladder and eventually Utility Company in this firehouse. More equipment was being added and the possibility of moving south into a new area was being planned.
As a new engine company was being formed,which is now Mohawk Engine Company, there was a need to combine both Engine One and Engine Two and the Apache Engine Company was renamed from the combination of the two. This name was considered and after much debate a new name was proposed and that was the Vanguard Engine Company. The Vanguard Engine Company was named in 1958 and later merged with the Utility Company in 1972.
Today, Station One is the home of the Vanguard Engine Company. They have two Class "A" pumpers and two ambulances housed at that station, and a manpower complement averaging 40 members. Although Engines One and Two were born from the original starters of the fire department, the name Vanguard was introduced in 1958. The company emblem which is a roman helmet over a pumper was designed and drawn by brother of Ex-Chief Bob Irvine and adopted in 1975.
Vanguard Engine Company is proud and honored to have the most senior member of the Fire Department in their ranks. Ex-Captain George Reilly wears badge #6 which makes him the senior member of the department. We expect George to become our first 50 year