This web site is dedicated to the volunteer citizen firefighters of Port Washington, Long Island, New York, who have devoted their time, and in some instances given their lives, to answer the call for help from the community during the past one hundred years.


“Answering the Call” was developed by the Port Washington Fire Department to commemorate its 100th anniversary and to preserve its history for generations to come. Its creation is a collaborative effort between many people both in and out of the fire department.

We are exceedingly grateful to Ex-Chief Peter Zwerlein who conceived this project and devoted hundreds of hours compiling data, researching, digitizing, reviewing and editing the web site, photographs and the oral history transcripts and audio.

The oral histories contained within the site would not have been possible without the knowledge, counsel and guidance of Elly Shodell, Oral History Director of the Port Washington Public Library and her excellent staff. The library and the fire department are two of Port’s greatest assets.

The Board of Directors of the Port Washington Fire Department and the Board of Trustees of the Port Washington Public Library along with the Chief’s Office and the Library Director have been extremely supportive.

From the beginning the entire membership of the fire department has recognized the value of the project and approved the necessary funding to make it happen.

And, of course, the memoirists gave us their precious time, spoke their unique and informed reminiscences, and shared their photographic riches. Their participation was invaluable!

Individual Acknowledgements

For the Port Washington Fire Department

Oral History Project Coordinator:

Ex-Chief Peter J. Zwerlein

Company Liaisons:

Ex-Chief John E. Salerno, Sr., Atlantic Hook & Ladder Company No. 1

Frank Pavlak, Protection Engine Company No. 1

Ex-Chief Charles J. Lang, Flower Hill Hose Company No. 1

Fred Falconer, Jr., Flower Hill Hose Company No. 1

Steve Leeolou, Flower Hill Hose Company No. 1

Les Kent, Fire Medic Company No. 1

Historical Research & Narratives:

Frank Pavlak, Virginia Duncan, Sheila McCarthy Dunnells, Les Kent, Oscar Petersen, John E. Salerno, Sr., Peter Zwerlein

Digitization of Audio & Graphics:

Peter Zwerlein

News Articles:

Bob Cocks, Janet Chudd, Bill Hewitt, Dick Smith, Henry Wrobel, Peter Zwerlein, Port Washington News, Port Mail and Reporter, Port Sentinel, Newsday, Daily News, Brooklyn Public Library

Photographs, Artifacts & Institutional Memory:

Christina Alexander, Donald Alexander, Butch Carpenter, Paul Carpenter, Ex-Chief Geoffrey P. Cole, Donald Curtin, Tom Cycan, Karen DeLuca, Ex-Chief Joseph Fico, Jr., Dorothea Hahn, Everitt Hehn, Charles Henderson, Jeremy Hirschhorn, Janet Kimmerly, Windsor Kinney, Donald Kurz, Ex-Chief Charles J. Lang, Steve Leeolou, Bucky Lewis, John Murray, Frank Pavlak, David Pfister, Ex-Chief Edward Picardo, Harold Poole, Phyllis Read, Beverly Reese, Ray Ryan, Dan Salerno, Ex-Chief John Salerno, Sr., Ronald Sanchez, Carol Swiacki, Chief John Walters III, Richard Wood, Ex-Chief Peter J. Zwerlein, William C. Zwerlein, Ex-Chief William G. Zwerlein, Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society, Port Washington Public Library

Port Washington Fire Department Board of Directors:

Daniel Salerno, Thomas Tobin, Geoffrey Cole, Jane Weiss

Chief of Department:

John Walters III

Office Manager:

Pat Schuh

For the Port Washington Public Library

Oral History Director:

Elly Shodell

Interviewers, Editors:

Sally Wendkos Olds, Margaret Dildilian

Research Assistance, Archivist, Additional Interviewing, Technical Expertise, and Publicity:

Joan Bernhardt, Francesca Pitaro, Christina Southard, Peter Zwerlein, John Whittemore, Jackie Kelly

Library Director:

Nancy Curtin

Library Assistant Director:

Corinne Camarata

Library Board of Trustees:

Julie Geller (President), Lee Aitken, Myron Blumenfeld, Joseph Burden, Thomas Donoghue, John O’Connell, Rita Santelli.

Web Site

Joseph Ciaravino


Contact Info:

comments & questions –

Also Visit:
The Official PWFD website
Port Washington Public Library’s Local History Center