Communities fondly remember those who served their residents, and Wantagh will indeed miss longtime firefighter Al Rubinson, who died on Friday, Nov. 1 at age 80. He was a volunteer lieutenant and captain of the Wantagh Fire Department for 50 years.
Rubinson was born on Sept. 17, 1939, in Brooklyn, New York. He was married for 59 years to his beloved wife, Sandy, who remains an active member of the Fire Department’s Ladies Auxiliary. They had three children — Scott, Tracy, and Larry — and seven grandchildren. Scott Rubinson is Captain of Massapequa Fire Department Engine 4.
His father was an electrician, active in the Local 3 Electrician Union. In 1969, Al Rubinson, then 30, after moving into Wantagh three years earlier, decided to volunteer for the Wantagh F.D. He was assigned to Engine 1 at department headquarters.
He served as Wantagh Hook Ladder and Engine Company One historian, and over the years was a member of many departmental committees as well as the Hazardous Materials Team. For years he enjoyed attending the fire prevention presentations given at local schools, where he helped children as they navigated the department’s “smoke house,” a controlled simulation where kids learned how to get out of their homes in case of a fire.
After living in Wantagh for many years, Al and Sandy moved to Massapequa in 1987, although they both remained active in the Wantagh F.D. Rubinson was also a Model A Ford enthusiast, and enjoyed driving his car and helping others repair theirs. Friends said that he lit up a room with his smile, and he often lent a helping hand to his neighbors.
“Al loved the Fire Department, and he was one of the guys that would always run into the firehouse for an alarm, and was very dedicated,” said former Chief Ron Hunter. “He would help a friend in need with electrical issues, often with his own tools and supplies, and never expected anything in return.”
“Al was a reliable and enthusiastic firefighter who was always willing to do what he could to help,” said the Wantagh F.D.’s public information officer, Kevin Reagan. “He was still riding the fire apparatus and packing the fire hose up until a year or so ago.”
Funeral services for Rubinson were held at Gutterman’s Funeral Home in Woodbury on Nov. 3, and he was buried at Wellwood Cemetery in West Babylon. A large contingent from both the Wantagh and Massapequa departments, led by Scott, was in attendance.
“In the volunteer fire service, guys like Al Rubinson are few and far between,” said Wantagh F.D. Captain Steve Cohen. “With his strength of dedication and loyalty over those 50 years, Al was someone that you don’t see very often. Al was a special man, and he will be sorely missed.”