By Tessa Raebeck
Award-winning—and Sag Harbor Express—photographer and journalist Michael Heller has continued his documentation of the friendly competition of fire departments in “Chariots of Firefighters: The History and Practice of Firematic Competition in New York State—Volume II: The Practice.” “Volume I: The History” was published in 2009.
The histories, the second of which Mr. Heller spent the last five years writing, chronicle the birth and rise of inter-department contests over 200 years and the present practice of modern-day firematic competition, with detailed descriptions and historic photographs alongside Mr. Heller’s stunning work.
“It is an in-depth look into a unique culture and facet of the world of firefighting in the United States that is unparalleled anywhere else in the entire world,” said a press release about the books, which chronicle a custom that is more prevalent in New York State than anywhere else.
An active volunteer firefighter with Hook & Ladder Co. #1 of the East Hampton Fire Department for the last 25 years, Mr. Heller has used his camera to document both fires and firematic competition. He has won numerous awards from the New York Press Association, the International Fire Photographers Association and other organizations for his writing and photography. In 2004, Mr. Heller took home the Grand Prize “Golden Firefighter Award” in the international photography Bombero de Oro (“Fire Photography Contest”) held in Spain.
Both volumes of “Chariots of Firefighters” are self-published and available for purchase here. For more information, email Mr. Heller at firstname.lastname@example.org. To see Mr. Heller’s portfolio, visit hellercreative.com.
By Claire Walla
When reports of a house fire on Bay Point in Sag Harbor hit the radio waves on Monday, May 21, firefighters from Sag Harbor, East Hampton and North Sea were quickly on the scene. And according to Sag Harbor Fire Chief Pete Garypie, they distinguished the blaze in a matter of minutes.
However, by the time the fire was reported, some significant damage had already been done.
“The bedroom — where the fire was mostly contained — was gutted,” Garypie explained. “And the rest of the house was severely smoke damaged.”
Garypie said crews arrived at 21 Harbor Drive at 10:33 a.m. to find smoke billowing out of the single-story, waterfront home at the eastern edge of the Bay Point peninsula. He added that the fire was already visible at the back of the house when crews first arrived.
One team of volunteer firefighters quickly entered through the front door of the home with a hose to extinguish the flames. Firefighters ultimately made their way to the rear of the building where a bedroom in the western corner of the home was ablaze.
“There was high heat and lots of smoke,” Garypie said of the conditions firefighters faced. “The guys did a great job.”
He also noted that one of the windows in the back of the property had “let go.” It sent wind inside, which Garypie said possibly stoked the flames.
At this time, however, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
One fireman was treated on the scene for smoke inhalation, which means he was given oxygen and water and told to rest for at least 45 minutes. Garypie said he is now doing fine. Other than that, the fire chief added, there are no reported injuri