15 Sep 2014
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Malverne Firefighter Honored for 50 Years of Service

David Weinstein recalls his most challenging and rewarding firefighting experiences as he celebrates a big milestone.

When  was engulfed in flames, he was there.

When an 18-year-old wrapped his tree around a car on Broadway and was swallowing blood, he was there.

And for countless other times when the  has been called to yet another house fire, car accident or emergency, for the past five decades, he's been there.

Firefighter and Ex-Chief David Weinstein was honored Monday night for reaching a milestone -- 50 years of dedicated service.

Weinstein, a native Malvernite, joined the department in 1962, at the age of 18, right after he graduated from 

"Dave jumped in with both feet," stated Malverne Fire Chief Scott Edwards as he described Weinstein's rise up the ranks of the department during a ceremony held at the firehouse on June 25.

Three years in, he ran and was elected to the position of Sergeant at Arms, then to Lieutenant, Captain, Deputy Chief, and Chief in 1975.

"He was eager and energetic," Edwards says. "Every firefighter knows that firefighting gets into your blood and once it does, there's no stopping the passion it can create."

During his first year as chief, Our Lady of Lourdes Church caught fire.

"It was a bad fire that started at the back of the altar," Weinstein told Patch, but the flames were quickly spreading, causing the organ keys on the other end of the church to melt.  

"We were afraid of losing the entire church," he said, explaining that they had to make the difficult decision of smashing through the beautiful stained glass window over the altar to fight the blaze.

"Consecutively, we saved the church … with the help of Lakeview, Lynbrook and the rest of the Fourth Battalion," he said. 

Weinstein also took part in saving an 18-year-old Valley Stream man who crashed his car head-on into a tree outside the firehouse. The young man was swallowing blood, and the doctor on the scene was skeptical he would survive.

But Weinstein turned to him and said, "Doc, we're not going to lose him."

Using basic hand tools, the only equipment available at the time, they were able to remove him from the mangled vehicle, stabilize him and transport him to a nearby hospital. 

Not only did he survive, but soon after he joined the Valley Stream Fire Department, where he became captain, served in the Vietnam War and recently retired from the Nassau County Police.

"We really saved a life," Weinstein said.

As a lieutenant, Weinstein also participated in a "daring rescue" of man from a burning building, for which he was nominated for an award, but he’s also seen much tragedy as well, and says he never forgets the pain suffered by these families.

Weinstein was also one of the founding members of the Malverne Volunteer Ambulance Corps, and served as a delegate for the Fourth Battalion and chairman of the Nassau County Fire Commission.

In the past five decades, he’s seen the fire equipment evolve, but "the brotherhood hasn't changed."

"The fire service is a brotherhood, a family and we operate as family," he said. "We may not always agree and that happens with family, but when that siren goes off everyone operates as a team."

It's this "united team" that has also been fighting for years to get the name of one of its fallen brothers, Paul Brady, placed on a New York State Memorial. "I know that it will happen," Weinstein said Monday. (On Thursday)

To foster this family environment, Weinstein said he's always "treated people the way I would want to be treated," and encouraged the younger members to "listen ... you can learn from the firefighters who have been here for awhile. They do have knowledge and experience."

Malverne Trustee and Ex-Fire Chief Jack O'Brien said, "[Dave] always keeps his calm, always treats people with respect and that's probably why he looks so good. The guys have never had a bad word from Dave or about Dave."

At the age of 67, Weinstein is retired from the Nassau County Police, where he put in close to 40 years on the force, but he is still an active member with the department.

"As Chief of Department, I am grateful to have a man like Dave standing next to me tonight," Edwards said. "He shows no sign of slowing down and l look forward to many more years of dedicated service from him. Thank you, Dave for all you do and all you will continue to do."

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