On August 27, 1952, at 10:18am, an alarm came in for two Town of Irondequoit sanitation workers (Carl VanSchaik & Earl Richmond) overcome by gas fumes in a manhole at Helendale Rd and Druid Hill Park. Fearing noxious gas, Laurelton Firefighters Arthur Sink & Bernard Bauman put on Chem-Ox masks and attempted a rescue. Unfortunately, these masks (the best the fire service used at the time) were unable to keep the men from losing their own lives. Both rescuers lost their lives in a selfless attempt to save others. Rochester Gas & Electric workers had to recover the bodies of the four men because they were the only company using Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA’s). The investigation that followed showed that it was lack of oxygen, not the gas that took all four men’s lives. The filter-type masks that the firefighters used offered no protection for this lack of oxygen. SCBA’s are now universally used throughout the fire service.
Bernard E. Bauman joined the Laurelton Fire Department as a Volunteer Firefighter on January 9, 1939. Bernard held the rank of Adjutant as well as 2nd Lieutenant and served the Fire District for nearly 15 years. At the time of his passing at only 36 years of age, Bernard, was survived by his wife Betty (a Charter Member of the Laurelton Ladies Auxiliary) and his only child, 9 year old son Bernard E. Bauman, Jr,. Bernard also had three sisters.