By Life Member James Delawder
May 13, 2024

It was a normal weekday and I strolled into the backroom of the Brewster Volunteer firehouse around noon. I had just awakened from my mid-morning nap. I greeted Billy May and the other guys in the Day Room. I poured myself a cup of coffee in order to wake up again and made a few corny comments to the guys. I then stated that I was going upstairs to my prison in the President's office to do some of my Treasury position work.

I first went to my mailbox in one of the bays. Then since I had hurt my leg a few days ago,, I decided to take the elevator. I exited the firehouse and went around the back to key the elevator. About half way up in the elevator, the elevator stopped! It would not go up or down! (photo #2) I was trapped in a metal can staring at excellent masonry work (photo #3).

If I pressed the alarm button, nobody might hear the alarm. If somebody did hear it, they would not know where the alarm sound was coming from. What to do? Who do you call? Call the ghost busters? No. Call the day room guys! One of them actually answered my phone call. I said : "Hi. This is Jim. Do not laugh. I am being serious. There is need for an elevator rescue. I am stuck in the elevator between the first and second floor. HELP!" I imagined that I could hear them laughing as some of them spilled out the back door and a couple ran upstairs. At least there did not seem there was much of a debate about helping the old guy out of the elevator. After freeing me from my cell, I thanked the guys and treated them to some coffee. I then told Billy May to make sure he put me on the point sheet. For the next couple of weeks, whenever I saw him, I would ask: "Did I get my points? Was I on the point sheet?"

Another much more dangerous rescue that Billy May was involved with was a structure fire. The fire occurred in Lake Carmel on March 8, 2022 at about 10:10 PM. Billy was a key cog in extricating a person out of a fully involved structure fire (photo #4). He went inside and helped the crew get the victim over the window sill and out of the building. After that fire, Billy did not go home for two days. Why? He had suffered second degree burns on both his ears and did not want to get an earful from his parents. (Of course, it takes much longer than two days to heal second degree burns.)

It is with great sadness that the Brewster Fire Department reports the passing of Brewster Firefighter William "Billy" May at age 26 on March 29, 2024. Billy joined the Brewster Volunteer Fire Department four years ago and was a rapidly rising star. He was always available to help others and had a great smile.

Whenever I think of Billy, I remember the elevator rescue and his respectful manner, his smile. I have questions, including "Did I really get my points?"

He is loved and missed.

Gone too soon.

For more details on the Lake Carmel structure fire, see prior article archived on this website dated July 27,2023.entitles: "Hudson Valley Firefighter of the Year".

About the author. James Delawder has been an active firefighter of the Brewster Fire Department since 1975.