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'We're a family of firefighters'

Firefighting is a family affair in Lynbrook

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Lawrence Bien has been a member of the Lynbrook Fire Department for 44 years, and recently celebrated 40 years of working in the village’s Department of Public Works. His dedication to the LFD has rubbed off on his family, as his wife and three sons also volunteer for the department.

“Three generations of our family [have] been in the Fire Department,” said Bien, 62, a Lynbrook resident for 61 years, beaming with pride. “. . . We’re a family of firefighters.”

Bien has been a member of the LFD since 1975. His wife, Kathy, 59, is also a firefighter, as are their sons, Scott, 32, Kyle, 31, and Dylen, 24. Their daughter, Jamie, 29, is not, but said she would like to serve as an emergency medical technician someday. She was a member of the Lynbrook Junior Fire Department and a secretary of the Ladies’ Auxiliary.

As LFD members, the Biens have responded to emergency calls for automatic alarms, building fires, auto accidents, carbon monoxide leaks, elevator rescues, ambulance calls and a variety of other situations.

“Helping people is the right thing to do,” said Lawrence, who was captain of the Hook and Ladder Company twice and won the LFD Fireman of the Year Award in 2009 and 2017. “My father was a chief, so that helped inspire me to want to volunteer, too.”

Lawrence has also been a Lynbrook DWP employee since he was 22, and worked his way up to deputy department superintendent. He reached the 40-year milestone with the DPW on Aug. 27, and his service to the village has extended to his wife and sons.

His eldest son, Scott, also volunteered for the LFD, he said, because he felt inspired by his father’s involvement and wanted to help other people. He started with the Junior Fire Department when he was 12, and when he turned 18, he joined the LFD.

“The majority of the calls that we get at the Fire Department come from my neighbors, so it’s very important to me to help my neighbors,” said Scott, who was captain of the Truck Company from 2015 to 2017. “I also hoped that by getting involved in firefighting, I could inspire my younger siblings to get involved, too.”

Scott did just that, with his younger brothers eventually volunteering for the department. Kyle is no longer a member, but he volunteered for seven years, from ages 18 to 25, and Dylen now serves as a department second lieutenant.

“Seeing my older siblings and my dad getting involved in volunteering for the Fire Department definitely played a role in me wanting to get involved,” Dylen said. “My favorite part of being a firefighter is giving back to the community and helping others.”

Kyle lived in Lynbrook for 27 years before moving to Bayport. He said that even though he is no longer with the department, he is proud of his time in it.

“Volunteering for the Fire Department is a family thing,” he said. “Sometimes we’d have family parties, and there’d be a fire call, and 15 of us would leave to run toward danger, whereas most people run away from danger.”

Although the Bien family members said they enjoy volunteering for the LFD, they realize that each call is unpredictable. No matter what time of night, firefighters’ pagers might go off, and they must respond to the firehouse and then race to the site of the emergency.

Firefighting, Scott said, requires a great deal of training, and the potentially dangerous nature of responding to emergencies can take its toll. Dylen called it an “adrenaline rush” to enter a burning building, and noted that it can become a jarring experience to suddenly drop whatever is happening in your life at a given moment to respond to a call.

Kathy said she was inspired to join the LFD as an EMT after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, when many first responders rushed to what became ground zero to rescue those trapped in the twin towers. She said that volunteering is a family tradition, and that being able to save lives has been rewarding for her.

“Volunteering in the Fire Department unites our family,” Kathy said. “My most memorable memory of volunteering was when I was able to save a 2-year-old baby who was drowning with CPR and rescue breaths.”

Jamie said that she was proud of her family, and noted that her father serving in the DPW for 40 years and the LFD for 44 while earning accolades are sources of pride. “My dad goes above and beyond for the Village of Lynbrook, and is always thinking of ways to better the village,” she said. “My father serves with pride for his village, and he deserves to be acknowledged for his service.”