As the chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners stepped into the center of the dance floor, the company fell silent, awaiting ex-chief Dominick Scaperotta’s verdict. He carefully assessed the sea of crisp black uniforms, which twinkled with their gold buttons, and announced that the Locust Valley Fire Department had passed its inspection with flying colors.
The department’s annual inspection and installation ceremony was celebrated in style with a dinner dance at the Brookville Country Club on May 11. Locust Valley’s bravest were treated to an evening of food, fun and family — all in the name of another outstanding year of fire service.
“It’s an opportunity for us to rejuvenate ourselves for the coming year, and it’s always exciting to [install] a new group of officers and chief of the department,” said ex-chief Brian Nolan, a 23-year member. “We also have some new company officers.”
Ex-chief Jeffrey Baker, who officiated as the master of ceremonies, had the honor of installing the department’s new chief, Andrew Akapnitis. He will serve a two-year term. Akapnitis has been a member of the LVFD since 2000. His new role is not his first brush with the chief’s office, however; he served as an assistant chief for six years prior to his appointment.
“It’s been a great career in the Locust Valley Fire Department, and I’m really looking forward to taking over and continuing our progress and build upon what we have,” Akapnitis said. “I’ve lived in Locust Valley my whole life, and it’s comforting to know that we have such great men and women coming out day and night to help our residents.”
Also installed were James Neumeyer, first assistant chief; Ralph Longo, second assistant chief; Jeffrey Converse, third assistant chief; Matthew Stimola, secretary; and Michael Bono, treasurer. Captains and lieutenants were also installed as company officers for LVFD’s Emergency Medical Rescue Co. #1, Chemical Co. #1, Engine Co. #1 and #2, Hose Co. #1 and Hook & Ladder Co. #1.
Akapnitis stressed the volunteer nature of the department, which is 85 members strong, he said. Though small in numbers, the organization exudes extreme pride for its community, following the philosophy “neighbors helping neighbors,” Nolan said.
“It’s tough to go to calls for people we know and love,” Akapnitis said, “but we do it, we make sure we get the job done and we make bad situations better.” The new chief said he looked forward to continuing to work with neighboring departments on fire calls and helping the LVFD’s membership grow.
Experience in the local fire service can also motivate a volunteer to pursue paths outside the community, Nolan said. “Some of our members have become medical technicians, some will even join the city Fire Department,” he said. “Opportunities like that are the most rewarding part of the job.”
The program also recognized service anniversaries for some of the department volunteers, the time spans ranging from five years to 81. Ex-chief Pete Turner, a 73-year member, said he was appreciative of the time he has spent in the LVFD.
“It’s the best there is,” Turner said of the department. “I joined when I got out of the Navy. I thought it was the thing to do — help the people. It was a community affair. It still is.”