By Kathryn G. Menu
For Ed Deyermond, working on antique fire trucks combines two passions born out of being the son of a Massachusetts firefighter. It allows him the ability to celebrate the history of the Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department, of which he has been a member for over three decades, but also enjoy the craft of preserving vehicles so they can be enjoyed for generations to come at parades and in museums.
Within the fire department, Deyermond is by no means alone. For several years now, a group of volunteer firefighters under the corporation Sag Harbor Antique Fire Trucks, Inc. have worked towards gaining approval to build the Sag Harbor Antique Fire Truck Museum on Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike.
The museum, which would not generally be open to the public save for a few open houses slated each year, would be a place the organization could restore and preserve its antique trucks in a climate controlled setting.
According to Deyermond, the vice president of the committee, and Pete Garypie, who serves as president, the department has two antique fire trucks that have been completely restored, including a 1938 Maxim believed to have been used in service after the hurricane of 1938 pummeled the village. They also have a restored Sag Harbor Fire Department 1943 Chevy, which was an Army fire truck, as well as a village fire truck from 1952.
“It’s in pieces, waiting to be restored,” said Deyermond on Tuesday.
A fourth truck has recently been donated from a Southampton resident said Deyermond, and while it does not have ties to Sag Harbor like the other vehicles, it dates back to between 1915 and 1920, appearing on a Milton Berle television show, and was used in the wedding of Yankee and Red Sox pitcher Sparky Lyle.
Right now, the trucks are all housed in different locations, having lost their semi-permanent home at the Mobil building on Bay Street when that property sold.
While the fire department always had a committee devoted to antique fire truck preservation, that committee eventually expanded into a corporation, with a board of directors and trustee representation from each of the Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department companies.
In 2005, said Garypie, the committee purchased the property on the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike with the hopes of developing it into the Sag Harbor Antique Fire Truck Museum. The property is one of the last parcels within village jurisdiction heading south on the Turnpike and the New York State Department of Conservation (NYSDEC) has already approved their plans. On Tuesday night, for the first time, the committee unveiled their plans to the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board.
They are proposing to construct a climate controlled barn on the property to house the vehicles with space for restoration projects. The plan entails removing an existing concrete pad on the northwest portion of the property, where an electrical substation once was.
The two-story structure would have a footprint of 2,400 square feet with an overall square-footage of 3,999 square feet. They also are seeking to install a parking area along the east side of the proposed barn with three parking spaces, as well as a 50-foot wide access driveway off of the turnpike.
Drainage controls and a new sanitary system will also be constructed on the site, and the committee has proposed to restore native planting at the rear of the building.
According to village attorney Anthony Tohill, a museum is a permitted use, although the project would need two variances from the zoning board of appeals as the building and the sanitary system do not meet the village’s requirements for wetland setbacks. The Harbor Committee and Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board will also need to weigh in on the plan.
According to Garypie, while the architectural plans have not been finalized, the building will be designed to fit into the residential neighborhood, and landscaping will be a focus of the project.
Like Deyermond, the project is very much connected to Garypie’s commitment to preserving the history of the department, but also to his own family’s history.
“My dad was a fireman in Bridgehampton, although my parents are from Sag Harbor,” said Garypie on Wednesday morning. “Not just for me, but for everyone in the department, everything we do is family oriented. We are one big family.”