***Vigilant Fire Company Begins Largest Volunteer CPR Training In The Country***

Thirty Minutes to Save A Life

Great Neck Students To Be Trained In CPR

From left to right: Josh Kerben, Joshua Feintuch, Michael Diehl, Nina Noy, EMS Sergeant Steven Blocker, EMS Corporal Joe Oginski, Rachel Namdar, Drew Dumaine, Doris Groene, Joshua Rakhman and Frank Groene.



Students with their new Course Completion Certificates!

Long Island, May 10, 2012 – On May 10, the American Heart Association and members of the Great Neck Vigilant Engine & Hook & Ladder Company kicked off their endeavor to train more than 5,000 students in eight of Great Neck’s public schools.  

“Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is one of the most fundamental and essential skills that one can know. CPR is only rendered effective when it is initiated within six minutes of the onset of cardiac arrest” said George Murphy, EMT-P, I/C – American Heart Association.

According to the American Heart Association, survival rates for sudden cardiac arrest occurring outside the hospital are alarmingly low, with only 11% surviving with fewer than 1 in 3 of those victims receiving CPR from a bystander. This results in 383,000 victims of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year in the U.S. In order to provide patients with the highest chance of survival, Vigilant decided to institute an aggressive multi-phased plan to provide early CPR to the residents of the Great Neck community.

The American Heart Association’s 2010 revised CPR guidelines make it easier for more people to perform CPR. The greater emphasis is now placed on the simplest step – chest compressions, or “hands-only CPR.

On a Thursday morning, the kickoff for the “hand-only CPR” program began with students and administration from Great Neck South Middle School. They gathered in the gymnasium to hear about the program and begin their CPR training during the American Heart Association’s “Family & Friends CPR Anytime” class.

“The overall goal is to educate faculty and students in grades three through twelve with CPR training,” said Steven Blocker, Sergeant - Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company. “We want to properly educate over 5,000 students, faculty and staff of the Great Neck Public Schools using the American Heart Association’s “Family & Friends CPR Anytime” program,” said Blocker.

“Training students in CPR, even in this more simple version, means that students become eligible for one of the most exclusive clubs in the world — the “I Saved a Life Club.” I am excited about making Great Neck students eligible. I thank Dave Zawatson, district athletic director, and the Great Neck Vigilant Engine & Hook & Ladder Company for developing this training opportunity. What a great community partnership!” said Dr. Thomas Dolan Superintendent, Great Neck Public Schools.

After the training in the schools is complete, the Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company will begin to provide CPR training to the community monthly at the fire house. In addition, any individual will be able to sign up and attend the American Heart Association’s Heartsaver AED (automated external defibrillator) training.  

For more information about the Vigilant CPR initiative visit or email

                                                  Written by Jessica DiMeo, American Heart Association


Vigilant Fire Company Teams up with Other 8th Battalion Fire Departments in Port Washington for Numerous Alarms Over 7 Days

On Sunday, August 28, in the wake of Hurricane Irene the Vigilant Fire Company was requested to respond to a reported building collapse in Port Washington along with members from the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department and the Port Washington Fire Department. Rescue 834 with 5 technical rescue certified firefighters responded to the collapse under the leadership of Assistant Chief Joshua Forst. Thankfully, the damage to the house was not significant and no one was injured when an exterior wall collapsed under the weight of a fallen tree.

On Wednesday, August 31, as the clean up from Hurricane Irene was in full swing the Vigilant Fire Company was requested to respond again to Port Washington. Great Neck Vigilant Ladder 8312 and Assistant Chief Joshua Forst responded to standby at the Port Washington Fire Department’s headquarters on Carlton Avenue along with Engine 842 from the Plandome Fire Department and Chief of the Plandome Fire Department Roger Goodwin.
On Friday evening, September 2, the Vigilant Fire Company was alerted again to respond to Port Washington, as the PWFD battled another house fire. This time the fire was reported by a civilian on the Long Island sound. Ambulance 8311 was sent to the scene of the fire to standby. Engine 8314 driven by Assistant Chief Forst stood by at the PWFD headquarters on Carlton Avenue along with Plandome’s Chief Goodwin and Engine 842, Albertson’s

 Engine 804 and Williston Park’s Assistant Chief John Perro and their Tower Ladder 862.
During the standby, at approximately 1:15 AM on Saturday September 3, the Port Washington incident commander Chief of Department Geoffrey Cole was notified of a reported house fire at 3 Oak Tree Lane in Sands Point. Chief Cole requested that the standby units respond to this alarm. Engines 8314, 842 and 804 responded with Tower Ladder 862 and Assistant Chief Perro in command. Upon arrival a working fire was confirmed in the basement. A hose line was stretched off of the Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company’s Engine 8314 and operated by probationary firefighter Brandon Kahen and 2nd Lieutenant Matthew Farahnik, under the command of 1st Lieutenant Justin Sachmechi. While firefighters from Williston Park’s Tower Ladder exposed the burning area other firefighters from Albertson and Plandome started a second hose line as a safety precaution and searched the house for any victims.

The fire was reported under control within 1 hour of the alarm.
On Sunday morning, at approximately 9:15 AM the Vigilant Fire Company was requested to standby again at the PWFD headquarters. Vigilant Engine 8314, Plandome Engine 842 and Chief Goodwin, Roslyn “Quint” 594, Engine 566 and Chief Adam Boll, Williston Park Ambulance 867 and Chief Perro responded to standby for Port Washington while they were fighting a fire in a “Collier’s Mansion” home in Sands Point. While standing by, the companies responded to an automatic alarm in the Beacon Hill neighborhood. The alarm was caused by cooking.
Later the same day, as many were preparing their Labor Day celebrations Port Washington again requested assistance from the neighboring departments. A pool house in Sands Point was ablaze and required the full attention of Port Washington’s bravest. Back at Port Washington’s headquarters, Great Neck Vigilant Ladder 8312, Great Neck Alert Engine 821, Plandome Engine 842 and an Ambulance from Roslyn stood by while the fire was extinguished.

As manpower in the volunteer fire services diminishes and call volume increases multi agency standbys like those described above will become more and more common. As evidenced in the past week, the different departments worked well together, got their jobs done and were able to overcome obstacles in their paths.
Given the number of potential issues, there were none to report. The members of the agencies involved proudly represented their organizations in a neighbor’s greatest time of need.

Write up by Asst. Chief Laurence Jacobs. Photo taken by Asst. Chief Josh Forst.


Great Neck’s Bravest Tackle Hurricane Irene

On Tuesday, August 23 the Vigilant Fire Company received notice to being to prepare for a potential
category 1 hurricane over the coming weekend. Hurricane Irene was building in the Atlantic Ocean and
all predictions were that it would affect the New York Metro area. This would be the first predicted
summer weather event of this size to affect our area since Hurricane Gloria in 1985.

Members of the Vigilant Fire Company were notified immediately and preparations began on
Wednesday morning. Foreman Robert DeVito with 4 engineers worked Wednesday, Thursday and
Friday to ensure that apparatus, equipment, tools and building were prepared for the potential worst
case scenario – a direct hit of the hurricane on Long Island. Apparatus was serviced and fueled, tools
were cleaned, checked and fueled, equipment was checked and fueled, and the building grounds were
checked for loose debris which was secured.

By Saturday morning the final preparations were made by Captain Micah Tucker and the membership.
Food was purchased, aeorbeds inflated and members began arriving at the firehouse at 6 PM on
Saturday prepared to stay overnight to Sunday or possibly even Monday if needed. The 2nd floor of the
firehouse served as the dormitory to more than 40 people. At 7 PM Chief Scott MacDonald briefed the
assembled membership on what to expect from a storm like Irene, how the fire company would respond
to alarms and gave a special safety reminder about power lines, power poles, wind, driving rain and
vehicular traffic.

In times of regional emergencies like this one, the Vigilant Fire Company not only serves the immediate
community, but also is the headquarters for the 8th Battalion Emergency Operations Center that serves
all of Great Neck, Manhasset, Plandome, Port Washington, Albertson, East Williston and Williston Park.
The EOC as it is called serves as the nexus for all requests for assistance between the 7 communities.

Between 6 PM on Saturday and 11 PM on Sunday the Vigilant Fire Company handled 24 alarms. Some
were requests for Emergency Medical Assistance, some reported fires and of course there were a
handful of calls about down power lines in our area.

Gratefully, all the calls were handled by Vigilant members without incident.

Write up by Asst. Chief Laurence Jacobs.


Great Neck’s Bravest Handle Two Fires Simultaneously


Occasionally Great Neck’s firefighters are called to respond to two fires at the same time, as it happened about ten years ago in May 2001, when the Alert Fire Company battled a fire at Temple Beth-El on Old Mill Road and the Vigilant Fire Company extinguished a blaze on North Circle Drive in Great Neck Estates and again on August 10, 2011.

Late in the afternoon on Wednesday, August 10th the Alert Fire Company was notified of a possible house fire in Kings Point.  Upon arrival Chief Plakstis of the Alert Fire Company confirmed a working fire and requested the Vigilant Fire Company to send and ambulance and a Firefighter Assistance Team (FAST). Chief MacDonald from the Vigilant Fire Company responded along with the firefighters on Vigilant Ladder 8312 and Ambulance 832 and provided a FAST truck for the house fire alongside the EMS standby.

While Chief Plakstis was conducting his primary search of the residence he was notified by his dispatch center of a reported vehicle fire on Oxford Boulevard in Great Neck.  Chief Plakstis immediately requested that the Vigilant Fire Company respond mutual aid to the vehicle fire.  Chief Jacobs of the Vigilant Fire Company responded and confirmed a working vehicle fire.  Engine 8314 from the Vigilant Fire Company responded and extinguished the fire on Oxford Boulevard.  EMS standby was provided by Vigilant Ambulance 831. Although the vehicle was occupied when the fire started there were no injuries reported.

All Vigilant units were back in service by 6:30 PM to protect the Great Neck Peninsula again.

Write up by Asst. Chief Laurence Jacobs


Great Neck’s Bravest Make a Quick Stop
Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

On Wednesday, June 8th at 7:44PM, the Vigilant Fire Company was called to respond to 7 Ridge Drive East in the Village of Great Neck Estates, for a report of a burning odor in the residence. The homeowner stated that her circuit breaker had tripped and that there was a burning odor in the house.  Captain Tucker and Lieutenant Sachmechi began to investigate the problem.

Firefighters used thermal imaging technology to scan the occupancy for any “hot spots” in the house. Upon scanning the second floor bathroom, a hot spot was found above the door. Vigilant Firefighters went above the bathroom into the attic to search for the fire. Quickly the fire was found to be burning in the rafters above the bathroom. Firefighters cleared the attic and bathroom of its contents and debris, used water cans and an inch and three-quarter hoseline to contain and extinguish all fire. Firefighters opened up the surrounding ceiling and walls to ensure there was no further extension of fire, and that it was completely extinguished.

The Vigilant Fire Company summoned mutual aid (assistance) from its neighbor the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department for one of its engines. Great Neck Estates Police also assisted in controlling traffic around the scene and coordinated efforts with Vigilant Incident Command. Multiple fire units were on scene, including Engine 8314, Ladder 8312, and Rescue 834. All units were back in service at 10:51PM and ready to respond to additional alarms.

Write up by Firefighter Joe Oginski & Captain Micah Tucker. Photos taken by US Merchant Marines Gillis & Hand


Great Neck’s Bravest Show Off Their Immaculate Contraption & Respond to MVC
Thursday, May 19th, 2011

On Thursday, May 19, 2011, members of the Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company were invited to display one of their prized vehicles at the Beth Hagan nursery school at Temple Israel on Old Mill Road.  Temple Israel is noteworthy in the fire service for a large fire that occurred there on February 12, 2009.

Vigilant Firefighter Joe Oginski who grew up at Temple Israel drove Rescue 834 a 2006 American LaFrance Eagle Custom Rescue to the synagogue and shared his knowledge and skill with the students at the nursery school and their caring teachers. 

Shortly after the rescue truck returned to headquarters the Vigilant Firefighters and EMTs responded to a motor vehicle collision near the Firefighter’s Memorial Park “Jon’s Park” at Grace Avenue and Park Place in Great Neck Plaza.

Write up by Asst. Chief Laurence Jacobs. Photos by Firefighter Joe Oginski and LT Matthew Farahnik.


      Vigilant Fire Company Hosts Extrication Drill for USMMA EMTs
Saturday, May 7th, 2011

On Saturday, May 7th, the officers of the Vigilant Fire Company hosted a vehicle extrication drill for their neighbors at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. The demonstration was held to help the newest class of New York State Emergency Medical Technicians get a hands on experience in stabilizing a patient that has been involved in a serious motor vehicle accident and the Jaws of Life are required to extricate the entrapped patient.

The class was led by Vigilant's Captain Tucker and Second Lieutenant Farahnik along with the help of Sergeant Blocker. All attending members were instructed on basic medical techniques including patient stabilization, door removal, dashboard displacement to remove a pinned patient and roof removal if the patient must be extricated vertically.
The partnership between the Vigilant Fire Company and the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point started in 2004.  Since then, scores of midshipmen have proudly served the Great Neck community alongside the dedicated members of the Vigilant Fire Company.  In the future, the EMT class of Spring 2011 will join their schoolmates and ride the Vigilant Ambulance as well.

Write up by LT Matthew Farahnik. Photos by MM Dan Gillis.


Vigilant Firefighters Provided Special Assistance to Southern Neighbors
Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

On Wednesday May 4, 2011, at approximately 11:30 PM the Vigilant Fire Company was alerted to respond mutual aid to a house fire in East Williston. The fire located on Bengeyfield Drive in East Williston was in a vacant house under construction.

The Vigilant Fire Company's Heavy Rescue was requested to the scene by East Williston Chief of Department Patrick Theodore. Chief Theodore requested 834 for its Cascade Air System to refill air cylinders used by firefighters at the scene.

While this is an unusual request for the Vigilant members, the firefighters responded quickly and handled their jobs with the utmost professionalism.  Chief Theodore greatly appreciated the response and help from his northern neighbors.

By 1245 AM on May 5th, the Vigilant firefighters and Rescue 834 were back in service to protect the Great Neck community.


Photos by Aharon Benelyahoo and Michael Diehl. Write up by Asst. Chief Laurence Jacobs.


Community Meeting to Save Great Neck’s Ambulance
Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

On Tuesday April 5th at 7:30 PM at the Great Neck North Middle School the officers and members of the Vigilant Fire Company hosted a community meeting to discuss potential changes to the Ambulance Service provided by the Vigilant Fire Company that are proposed by some local elected officials in the Great Neck Community.

The goal of the meeting was to inform the community residents about more than 100 year history of the Vigilant Fire Company, the over 70 years of dedicated ambulance service and the ongoing emergency services provided for pennies a day to the residents of Great Neck.

Mayor Leonard Samansky of Saddle Rock said at the meeting ,“This department has served the community for over 100 years.  We [the Village of Saddle Rock] made a decision to pay into an insurance policy 100 years ago in our volunteer emergency service providers.”  Mayor Samansky encouraged all village residents to call their local elected officials and express their opinions in this important matter.

The Vigilant Fire Company provides fire and emergency medical services to the Great Neck community.  Formed in 1904 the 100 volunteer members respond to over 2,000 calls for emergency assistance annually.  In the last 2 years some local villages have refused to sign a contract for these services.  They do not dispute the overall budget for the Vigilant Fire and Ambulance services, however there is dispute between the villages about the allocation amongst themselves of the fees.

The meeting was recorded by Public Access Television and is available to be seen on television.  A schedule of the airings of the meeting is available at

Write up by Asst. Chief Laurence Jacobs.



A community meeting will be held at the Great Neck North Middle School, (77 Polo Road, Great Neck, NY) on April 5th, 2011 at 7:30PM discussing a movement by elected officials to charge for ambulance services in the Great Neck community. Please attend this meeting to obtain further information on the future of ambulance services in Great Neck. You may also visit our Facebook page by visiting:







2 Fires in 24 hours in Great Neck
Monday, February 14th, 2011


On Monday, February 14, 2011 at approximately 9:15 AM the Vigilant Fire Company was requested to respond to the Chinese restaurant located at 178 Middle Neck Road for a report of smoke from the building.  Upon arrival Chief of Department Scott MacDonald advised that he had smoke showing from the roof of the building.

Upon further investigation, members of the Vigilant Fire Company determined the smoke was caused by grease burning in the exhaust system of the Chinese restaurant.  The fire was extinguished quickly.  Firefighters exposed the damaged parts of the building to ensure that the fire had not extended past the area of origin.  The fire was deemed under control in less than 45 minutes.  The Nassau County Fire Marshal and Department of Health were requested to respond because a food establishment was involved.


The Vigilant Fire Company was back in service ready to protect our community again by 10:30 AM. 

 Write up by Asst. Chief Laurence Jacobs. Photo taken by Chief Billy Goldfeder.



Dumpster Fire Outside of Great Neck’s Nursing Home

Some 14 hours before the fire at 178 Middle Neck Road, around 7:45 PM there was a dumpster fire in the rear of 15 St. Paul’s Place adjacent to the Long Island Rail Road tracks in Great Neck Plaza.  The dumpster on the property of the Grace Plaza Nursing Home was fully involved upon the arrival of Vigilant Firefighters.

Vigilant Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire with the 500 gallons of tank water of the 2010 Ferrara Class 1 fire engine supplemented by the hydrant just across the street.  All units were back in service in under 1 hour from the time of the initial alarm.

Write up by Asst. Chief Laurence Jacobs. Photo taken by Asst. Chief Josh Forst.




Vigilant EMS Treats and Transports Early Morning House Fire Victims



On Thursday, January 20, 2011, at approximately 5:45 AM the Vigilant Fire Company received a requested to send an ambulance to a reported house fire with people trapped on Wooleys Lane between Plymouth Road and Station Road in Great Neck.

The Alert Fire Company received a notification for an automatic fire alarm and then an additional telephone call from a neighbor reporting a person yelling fire and that there were possibly people trapped.  Both residents were found by the Alert Fire Company members on the flat garage roof of the structure.  They were assisted to the ground using a fire department ladder. The members of the Vigilant Fire Company treated both civilians and transported one to North Shore Hospital in Manhasset.

During the fire a firefighter was also slightly injured. He was treated at the scene by Vigilant EMTs.

The fire was extinguished by the Alert Fire Company members. Both the Alert and Vigilant units were all back in service to protect the Great Neck community by 7 AM.

Write Up By Asst. Chief Laurence Jacobs. Photo by Asst. Chief Joshua Forst.



Great Neck’s Bravest Join the Plaza’s Fall Classic Car Show and Street Festival

Sunday, September 26th, 2010




On Sunday, September 26, 2010, the members of the Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company participated in Great Neck Plaza’s annual Fall Classic Car Show and Street Festival.  Located in their customary position at the intersection of Cutter Mill and Middle Neck Roads, the members offered free blood pressure screenings, home safety literature, and some firefighter treats for the kids.


The Vigilant Fire Company still operates a 31 year old Class ‘A’ fire engine.  The 1979 American LaFrance 1500 gallon per minute pumper was on display and it was certainly a highlight for the kids and adults. Vigilant members spent the day giving tours of the fire engine and allowing children the opportunity to explore the inside and outside of this classic piece of apparatus.

The Vigilant Fire Company brought their newest emergency vehicle, a
2010 Chevy MedTech RediMedic PD-168 Advanced Life Support (ALS) Ambulance. The new acquisition is a state of the art emergency response vehicle outfitted with the latest in emergency medical response equipment, LED warning lights which use less electricity and in turn less fuel to operate, and the most up-to-date audible warning devices to ensure a safe and expeditious treatment and transport on all emergency calls. 


At 2:30pm, the firefighters performed a brief demonstration on vehicle extrication.  Members showed how, in the event of a car accident, they are able to remove the doors of a vehicle, create a “third door” on a two-door vehicle to remove someone from the rear seats, displace the dashboard in the event it was impinging in the passenger compartment, and “flap” the roof in the event an accident victim needed to be removed vertically.


During their time at the street fair, the members were called away six times for emergency calls in their response area.   In true Vigilant style, they were able to staff their area at the street fair and respond to each call for help from their neighbors.

Write up & Photos By Asst. Chief Laurence Jacobs.


OCTOBER 24TH, 2009


On the weekends of October 17th and 24th, the Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company conducted a rope operations training class for its membership. The 50 hour class, intended to teach firefighters to access, package, and remove victims from both high angle and confined space scenarios, was organized and run through ROCO: a ropes training company based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Throughout the course firefighters were trained on various rope operations, as well as proper removal of victims in emergency situations. Firefighters received certification in ROCO.

Write Up By Firefighter Steven Neuhaus. Photos by Firefighter Steven Blocker.



At 8:14PM on Friday, April 3rd 2009, the Vigilant Fire Company received a telephone alarm from the staff at 96 Cuttermill Road reporting a burning odor on the main floor in the dining room and kitchen area. Upon arrival, an electrical type odor was noted upon entering the kitchen. Firefighters used a Thermal Imaging Camera to determine that there were two defective lighting ballasts. Firefighters removed both of these defective ballasts, and capped remaining wires. Captain Charry led the investigation and ensured that there would be no further hazards.

Upon completion of the investigation, a further odor was noted. After further investigation, a haze developed and centered around the grill area. After investigating this matter firefighters determined that a bag of towels at the bottom of a steam table was smoldering upon its removal. The fire in the bag was extinguished by firefighters. Captain Charry requested the Nassau County Fire Marshal's office to respond for further precautions.

Description by Captain Joshua Charry.




At 7:32PM, on Friday March 27th, the Vigilant Fire Company was dispatched for mutual aid to the Great Neck Alert Fire Company for a working structure fire at 9 Arrandale Ave.

Upon arrival, heavy fire was visible from the right side of the building on the second floor, extending into the attic of the house. Vigilant firefighters worked together with the Alert firefighters to extinguish the fire and overhaul the structure to ensure there were no pockets of fire remaining hidden within the walls and ceilings.

During the initial firefighting operations, the conditions worsened and all units were ordered to leave the structure immediately due to potential hazards in the building. After the fire was knocked down from the exterior and the structure was deemed safe, Firefighters re-entered the building for further extinguishment of the fire.  The fire load was so heavy at times, that master streams were used to assist in extinguishing the fire from outside the structure. The last units were cleared at 12:15AM and returned to quarters.


Description by Firefighter Joe Oginski, LT Micah Tucker, and Assistant Chief Mark Meade.


MARCH 25TH, 2009

At 1:54PM, the Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company was dispatched to provide Mutual Aid to the Manhasset Lakeville Fire Department, for a working structure fire in a large apartment building at 5 Schenck Ave. Chief of Department Scott MacDonald was in charge of Vigilant Fire Company operations, assisting him was 1st Assistant Chief Mark Meade. Units were out the door within moments responding to the scene, and stayed on scene until 5:57PM.

The fire was located on the top floor of the three story structure. Chief MacDonald additionally requested tower ladder 8324 to respond to the scene to assist with the removal of any other possible victims from the building, along with roof access. Upon arrival, Vigilant units began assisting Manhasset Lakeville units make a push into the fire rooms to extinguish the fire, as well as begin forcing all doors on the third floor, in an attempt to extricate any victims that may have been trapped in their apartments, and bring them to safety. Firefighters forced well over 20 doors to secure the building and ensure the safety of all occupants. After all occupants were confirmed removed, Firefighters were instructed to ensure there was no further extension of the fire by opening up all walls and ceilings in the area of the fire.

The Manhasset Lakeville Fire Department and Vigilant Fire Company worked hand and hand, along with many other departments from Nassau County to extinguish this fire. The Nassau County Police department, Nassau County Office of Emergency Management, as well as the American Red Cross responded to this large scale incident to assist the community in their time of need as all the residents of the building were displaced due to the extensive damage sustained by the building.


Description By Firefighter Joe Oginski. and Assistant Chief Mark Meade.




On Friday, March 27th at 11:26AM, the Vigilant Fire Company responded to 34 Gateway Drive for a report of smoke from the Great Neck Estates Police Department. Units were on the road in minutes responding, and gained entry with the assistance of the Police Department. Upon arrival, units found the contents of the oven to be on fire and uncontained. Firefighters immediately extinguished the Oven Fire, and ensured that no further damage was incurred. All units were back in service within 20 minutes.

Description By Firefighter Joe Oginski.



SUNDAY, OCT. 19TH, 2008

On October 19th, 2008 at 8:45am the emergency phone rang at Vigilant Fire Company headquarters on Cuttermill Road reporting a house fire at 1 Mirrielees Circle in the village of Great Neck Estates.

Within two minutes, Officer Jakowski of the Great Neck Estates Police Department arrived on scene and reported a house fire which was confirmed by 1st Assistant Chief, Mark Meade upon his arrival at 8:49am.

First due engine 835 under the command of Captain Forst assisted by Lieutenant Tucker arrived minutes later, established a water source and the members stretched an 1 3/4" line to the back bedroom where the fire was located.

As this was occurring, Chief Scott MacDonald arrived, took over command, and Chief Meade entered the house to supervise interior firefighting operations.

The fire was knocked down quickly and the Vigilant's assisted by members of the Alert Fire Company and the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department performed overhaul to make sure that the fire was out.  While the Vigilant's were operating at the fire, the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department ambulance responded to an ambulance call at the Grace Plaza Nursing Home.

All Vigilant Fire Company units were back in service at 10:28am.

Description by Captain Josh Forst. Photos Taken By Medic Mark Winiarski.






On Monday, October 6th, 2008, news channel CW11 spent the morning at the Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company, learning Fire Prevention. Chief Scott R. MacDonald led CW11 and his crew of firefighters into the "Vigilant Tower", a structure used to demonstrate a real working structure fire. Larry from CW11 wanted to experience how dangerous a situation of this sort can be. On the second floor of the tower, it was setup to be an apartment building, including old furniture, a wooden book case and other bedroom accessories. When Chief MacDonald brought Larry to the bottom of the staircase of the 1st floor, everyone began to feel the heat, and knew that the second floor was going to be much hotter. Upon arrival to the second floor, the fire had already been ignited for only a moment or two. When the door was opened, the fire had radiated off of everything in the room, causing extreme heat, and a lot of fire. Chief MacDonald and the entire Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company had hosted this demonstration to show the public how important fire safety is, and that it could be the difference between life and death. Make sure you check and change the batteries on all of your smoke detectors, and ensure that everything is working properly and is up to date.

Description by FF Joe Oginski.




At 15:03, the Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company was dispatched to the location of 83 Old Mill Road for an Auto Accident with 2 vehicles involved. Upon arrival, it was determined that the driver of one vehicle had fallen asleep at the wheel, colliding into a parked vehicle, driving the second vehicle over 10 feet onto the lawn of the residence. Under the command of Chief of Department MacDonald, the scene was immediately enclosed to ensure all personnel and civilians were safe. Ambulance 832 immediately responded to transport one patient to North Shore Hospital in Manhasset. All units were back in service within the hour.

Description by FF Joe Oginski. Photos Taken By Chief Scott MacDonald.



On Monday, August 11th, 2008 the Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company responded to 20+ Emergency Calls. The Vigilant Fire Company was dispatched to 14 Fire/Rescue Calls, and 6 Ambulance calls. Directed by Chief of Department MacDonald, Vigilant units operated from the morning through the night responding to numerous calls for everything ranging from downed power lines to water leaks due to the severe weather condition. The first call the Vigilant’s were dispatched to was an auto accident at the intersection of Middle Neck Road & Embassy Court, which involved a two car motor vehicle accident, driving one vehicle into the structural housing of the buildings across the street. In addition, all fluids were contained and speedy dry absorbent was applied by firefighters to prevent any injury. Only a few moments later, Vigilant dispatchers received another call, for a downed power line in the vicinity of Allenwood Road & Governors Court. Due to weather conditions, there was severe flooding throughout Great Neck only causing more obstacles for the fire department to overcome. The power line then fell into a large amount of water, at which point firefighters created a safe perimeter around the area to ensure no civilians would be injured. Chief MacDonald then requested for National Grid and Keyspan to respond to the location. After being shut down, firefighters then extinguished the fire due to the downed line. At this point in time Vigilant dispatch notified all units on the road to respond to numerous additional automatic alarms caused by the weather, as well as then proceed to a residence on Hillcrest drive for a severe water leak. After firefighters entered, they shut down gas to the house to prevent any dangerous situation. Units then redirected to a residence on Greenacre Court, and after walking through the residence with a gas meter determined that there was a gas leak, at which point they immediately shut down gas to the home. Keyspan was notified for evaluation. After being directed to more automatic alarms, Vigilant units responded to a commercial store located on Middle Neck Road, for a reported basement fire. Firefighters determined that due to flooding, an electrical motor began to smolder. Power to the building was shut down, the basement was ventilated, and units were back in service within the hour. This was an extremely day for the Vigilant Fire Company, responding to emergency calls day and night, good weather or poor. We are here to serve our community.

Description by FF Joe Oginski. Photos taken by EMT's Steven Shapiro & Sara Neuhaus.



JUNE 27TH, 2008

On Friday, June 27th, 2008, at 15:43, the Vigilant Fire Company responded to the intersection of Bayview Avenue & Old Mill Road for a report of a 3 car accident, with multiple patients. Vigilant ambulances 831, 832, and 8311 responded to the scene to provide immediate medical attention.  Under the command of Chief of Department Scott MacDonald. Vigilant ambulances transported two patients to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. All patients were safely removed from the vehicles involved in the accident, and secured for transport to the hospital. The Alert Fire Company was also on scene to provide Heavy-Rescue, responding with Rescue 828, and assisted the Vigilant Fire Company in removing all patients. All Vigilant units were back in service within the hour.

Description by Joe Oginski. Photos Taken By Chief Scott MacDonald.




Great Neck Vigilant Recognizes Volunteer for
 Long-Term Dedication to Community


Vivian Gloria Meyer-McGrath, a native of Great Neck, has helped so many people in one way or another for some 50 years.  She has worn many hats throughout her life - from nurse to CPR instructor to EMT - assisting others makes her feel good.  On June 2nd, the Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company honored Vivian for her hard work and long-standing commitment to the firehouse by dedicating an ambulance to the 70-year-old EMT.

“We truly appreciate all of Vivian’s efforts through the years.  Not only has she been a mentor to many of our fire and medic personnel within Great Neck Vigilant, but she has played an integral role in helping many citizens in our neighborhood,” said Chief Scott R. MacDonald.  “The generosity of Vivian’s time and her selfless acts must be commended.  It is with great honor that we dedicate an ambulance in her name.”

From 1970 to 1984, Vivian was a CPR instructor at St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center; prior to that period, she was a nurse.  Throughout the 1970’s, she had a desire to join her local fire company, but at the time, Long Island fire companies and departments did not accept female volunteers. In 1984, she found out through a local newspaper article that the local fire company was starting to accept women; she immediately applied.  Vivian was one of a large group of women to join that inaugural year.  “It was hard because we all worked and had families; you had to do the drills.  But it was nice at the same time; we had a whole bunch of great women,” recalled Vivian.  All of the women had regular daytime jobs at the time.  Vivian worked as a manager of the Bank of New York at the United States Merchant Marine Academy.

From 1996 to 1999, Vivian served as Board President of Great Neck Vigilant and then in 1999, she became Treasurer-Trustee, a position she would hold for two years. 

In 2000, the Nassau Regional EMS Council named Vivian “Basic Life Support Provider of the Year”; in 1997, she was honored by the Kings Point Civic Association; and in 1995, Vivian was recognized by the Superintendent Faculty and Regiment of Mid-shipmen of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

During 2008, Vivian was added to the May W. Newburger Women’s Roll of Honor, in which she was recognized by North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman and Town Clerk Leslie Gross for her contributions to the Township.  Also this year, Vivian received the Nassau County Legislature's "Women Trailblazers" award; annually, the Nassau Legislature recognizes the extraordinary work of women throughout the County. 

Vivian believes that people should help other people and get involved.  She said, “You must do one thing at a time, and do it well.”  Those are words that she says she lives by every day. 








On Monday May 26th the officers and members of the Vigilant Engine and Hook & Ladder Company celebrated Memorial Day by participating in the Great Neck Memorial Day Parade.  Shortly before 9:00 AM on Monday, the entire company assembled in front of their headquarters on Cutter Mill Road to remember those who have paid the ultimate price in the name of our community, state and country.

Led by Chief of Department Scott MacDonald, the 63 members, 2 antique fire engines, 3 front line fire engines, 1 aerial ladder, 1 tower ladder, 1 heavy rescue, 1 mini-pumper and 3 ALS ambulances paraded down Middle Neck Road from Schenck Avenue to the Village Green in the Old Village.  Following a ceremony on the Village Green and a 21 Gun Salute by members of the Kings Point Drill Team, the firefighters continued to All Saints Church for the playing of ‘Taps’ and a final salute to the somber day.

Later the same day members also participated in the Little Neck – Douglaston Memorial Day Parade as has been the tradition for the company.  This parade has the largest attendance of any Memorial Day Parade in the country.

While parading the community was still protected by the qualified firefighters and EMTs of Great Neck.  During the Great Neck Parade the fire company responded to an automatic alarm at an occupied multiple dwelling on Cutter Mill Road.  Although 5 firefighters and 1 engine had to leave the parade to respond, there was only a minor disruption to the parade for the false alarm.

Description By Ex-Captain Laurence Jacobs. Photos Taken By Kings Point Police LT. Banville.





MAY 21ST, 2008




On Wednesday May 21, just before midnight the Vigilant Fire Company was notified of a motor vehicle accident at the intersection of Bayview Avenue and Mirrielees Road.  Upon arrival members found a late model BMW had missed the turn at Cutter Mill Road and stuck a telephone pole.  The pole was severely damaged, and power was out in the area.  Officers from the Great Neck Estates Police Department were instrumental in helping the accident victim to safety.


Commanded by 1st Assistant Chief Mark D. Meade the members from Ambulance 8311 were able to secure and transport the injured passenger from the vehicle.   Firefighters lead by 1st Lieutenant Joe Kelly roped off the effected area and notified LIPA. 


All Vigilant Units were back in service just around 12:30 on May 22.  LIPA however continued to work through the night to restore power to their effected customers.  The intersection remained closed until 2 PM Thursday Afternoon as LIPA worked in the area.


Photos & Description By Ex-Captain Laurence Jacobs.



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