When Luke Dalton visited the Westhampton Beach firehouse with his father, 3rd Assistant Chief Bill Dalton, last year, the 15-year-old examined all the old trophies and photographs that had collected there over the years, and a thought crossed his mind.What would happen to all those historic items when the Sunset Avenue building is knocked down this summer to make way for the new firehouse?
The Westhampton Beach High School freshman, who is also a member of the Westhampton Beach Junior Fire Department, turned that thought into his Eagle Scout project, which he completed in the fall after plenty of hard work.
He began by presenting his proposal to the Westhampton Beach Fire District’s Board of Commissioners and the Suffolk County Boy Scout Council for approval last fall. Once they signed off, the organizing began.
With the help of his friends and fellow Scouts from Troop 62, Luke took inventory of all the old photographs, trophies, citations, records and memorabilia, some of which date back close to 100 years. He filled dozens of boxes—his father estimated about 92 in total—with the items, which ranged from old competition trophies to leather chiefs’ hats.
“It was pretty cool,” Luke said. “I kind of got a sense of history from going through them.”
Last spring, Westhampton Beach taxpayers voted to approve the demolition of the current firehouse to make way for a new $15.7 million structure that would improve safety in the building and allow more space for training and the storage of the department’s equipment. A temporary headquarters will soon be installed off Seabreeze Avenue in Westhampton, before the old firehouse is demolished.
Mr. Dalton, Luke’s father, explained that Luke’s sister, Jessica Ziparo, a history professor at Salem State University in Massachusetts, also motivated Luke to complete the project. “Don’t throw anything away,” she advised him, according to Mr. Dalton.
In December, Luke sat down with some of the older members of the fire department, including those who have dedicated more than 60 years of service to the volunteer outfit. The veterans helped Luke label the old pictures, an experience the Scout said was his favorite part of his Eagle Scout project.
“It was good to see that kids are interested in something like that,” said Fred Overton, chairman of the fire district’s Board of Commissioners.
Mr. Overton said Luke’s efforts were a huge help in making sure that the old trophies, records and photographs were properly stored so, eventually, they can be put back on display in the new two-story firehouse. “They did a very good job,” he said.
Once all the items were inventoried, Luke neatly organized them in boxes and moved them to the basement of the old police station that sits next door to the firehouse, where they will be safely stored until the new headquarters is complete sometime in 2016.
An honor student who also plays lacrosse and football, Luke was the first Scout from Troop 62 to complete his Eagle Board of Review before the Suffolk County Council, though more than a dozen others who started in the same Cub Scouts den in the first grade are working to finish their respective Eagle Scout projects over the next year.
Mr. Dalton, the group’s Scoutmaster, spearheaded the effort to reestablish Boy Scout Troop 62 in 2010, after a 30-year absence. He said he is proud of his son, and the other Scouts, for their hard work and accomplishments.
Luke’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony, during which he will be bestowed with the highest honor a Boy Scout can receive, is expected to take place sometime in May at the Sunset Avenue firehouse.
As for Luke, he said he’s satisfied with having completed what had been a longtime goal of his, and for being able to help preserve important pieces of fire department history.
“I’m excited,” he said.