Port Washington dedicates plaque to commemorate lost firefighter

Port Washington dedicates plaque to commemorate lost firefighter
Residents gathered on Main Street on Sunday to dedicate a plaque in honor of Capt. Robert Dayton. (Photo by Jessica Parks)

Thirty years ago on Nov. 26, 1988, Capt. Robert “Bobby” Dayton, a volunteer firefighter with the Port Washington Fire Department, died in the line of duty at the age of 28.

On Sunday, officials and residents gathered on Main Street, where the fire occurred, to dedicate a plaque that was installed to commemorate the young firefighter.

“Our hope is that when people walk down the street they will stop and read about Bobby,” Port Washington Fire Department Chief Bryan Vogeley said.

Leading a rescue team at a house fire, which was later declared arson, Dayton was trapped while searching for victims on the second floor. His colleagues were unable to rescue him despite many efforts. 

The Schreiber High School graduate got involved with the Flower Hill Hose Co. 1 when he was 18 years old and continued volunteering with the unit while working for the New York City Fire Department as a firefighter for Engine Company 287 in Elmhurst, Queens.

“Bobby’s story is not just about making the ultimate sacrifice. It’s a reminder for future generations of this community who we are as volunteers and the dangers that we may face,” Vogeley said.

Just the day before Dayton’s 30th-anniversary services, a Boy Scout from Port’s Troop 7 planted a garden in memory of the captain on Shore Road.

In 2010, Haven Avenue, where the Flower Hill firehouse is located, was renamed as Captain Robert H. Dayton Way by the Town of North Hempstead.

In addition to these commemorations of Dayton, the Fire Department established the Captain Dayton award, which will be given to Port Washington firefighters “who rise above and beyond the call of duty just the way that our brother Bobby did,” the fire chief said.

After the dedication ceremony, attendees walked in procession to the Lutheran Church on Franklin Avenue where a memorial service was held followed by a luncheon at the Flower Hill Station House. 

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