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Sad News: Ex-Captain Charles E. Duffy answers his last alarm

The Chiefs Office regrets to announce the passing of 50 Year Member, Ex-Captain Charles E. Duffy of Engine Co. 5. on Saturday May 18th. Charlie was a pillar of our department and will leave a huge void in our organization. Below is an article which was published in our internal newsletter in February 2018 highlighting Charlie's service to our organization. He will be missed.

Originally published February 2018:

Charlie Duffy Sr. joined the Smithtown Fire Department on March 10, 1969 with the likes of Father Dan, Tom Delurey and Gerry Homan. Charlie was assigned to the newly formed Engine Company 5 on the West End of town, and for 49 years has been a rock for their membership as well for the Department. From 1971-1972 he served as 2nd Lieutenant, he was elected 1st Lieutenant 1973-1975, and then Captain 1975-1977. As an original member of the Grievance Committee, Charlie has served as Company 5's representative since 1982. He has also, for many years, been a dedicated member of the House Committee always ensuring events run smoothly.

Outside the firehouse, Charlie was a Navy veteran who worked as a Helmsman until he moved to Smithtown in 1967. Working for the Local 1 elevator construction union for 40 years he earned the nickname "Paint Can Charlie" because he always looked so busy. His experience with elevators served him well as to this day he handles all of the departments elevator rescue training and has also taken inventory of all elevators in the fire district to ensure the members are informed on the elevator systems throughout town. Charlie has passed his commitment to service of community and country down to his sons. Charlie Jr. served as a Marine and then upon joining the Department years later rose the ranks to serve as Chief of Department in 2009. His son Kenny is a Captain in the North Naples Fire Department, Florida and many of his grandchildren have been members of our Explorer Post. Charlie and his wife Terry are proud of their five children and seven grandchildren.

Throughout his career, Charlie has earned over ten training certificates to advance his knowledge and to better himself as a firefighter. The fruits of his training were shown on November 19, 1988 when a signal 13 was transmitted at 1321 hrs for an explosion at the Penn Furniture Store located on West Main Street. 4-2-5 was the first engine on scene, with Charlie as Chauffeur, commanded by Lt. George Maier, and with F.F. Tom Duckham and F.F John Vogel as the crew. Upon arrival the building was totally leveled, and Lt. Maier was advised of a severe gas leak from the building.

The members stretched and operated a 1-3/4" line to dissipate the escaping gas and prevent any secondary explosions. The crew’s actions prevented any further explosions and helped to create a safe scene for all the members who responded. For their actions Charlie and the crew of 4-2-5 were awarded a Unit Citation. Among his awards, Charlie has been selected as Company 5 Fireman of the Year twice, in both 1999 and 2006. In each of his nomination letters, then Captain Tim Murphy and then Captain Peter Colletta, described Charlie as an individual always serving with enthusiasm and eager to complete any task asked of him. In 2013, then Chief John Hansen awarded Department Fireman of the Year, which is a very selective award only presented for above and beyond events. His dedication to the department and his brother firefighters made him an easy selection.

In October 2012, Long Island was devastated by Hurricane Sandy and the department accommodated 60 lineman crews from Canada who were tasked with helping to restore electricity to Smithtown. During their stay, the department undertook the huge task of providing food, comfort and a place to sleep for these helpers. Many members gave up their time for days on end to make breakfast, lunch and dinner for all these guests, but one member stood out as he always does and that was Charlie. He was regularly at the firehouse to ensure the lineman felt welcomed and were well fed. The kindness and generosity that Charlie exhibits daily were on display to all who were around. Charlie is a man who would give the shirt off his back and is always there to lend a hand whenever he can and never asks for anything in return. While presenting Charlie’s Department Firefighter of the Year award, Chief Hansen stated that Charlie has trained countless chauffeurs on  many of the departments apparatus as far back as when the department had horses. While said in jest it goes to show the pillar that Charlie has become in our organization

Funeral Services are as follows:

Viewing Hours:

Monday May 20th             7:00pm – 9:00pm

Tuesday May 21st             2:00pm – 4:00pm

7:00pm – 9:00pm

Fives Funeral Home

31 Landing Avenue

Smithtown, NY

Firematic Services:

Tuesday May 21st at 8:00pm

Fives Funeral Home

Members to assemble in Class A Uniform at 7:30pm

Funeral Mass:

Wednesday May 22nd at 10:30am

St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church

280 East Main Street

Smithtown, NY

Members to assemble in Class A Uniform at 9:00 am

At Smithtown FD Main House

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