Fire Island

Fire Island is part of the barrier islands off the south shore of Long Island, NY.  It is located along a primary approach to New York harbor and, as such, has been the location of radio installations for navigation and communications since the earliest days.

MRHS member Richard Dillman had the opportunity to check out rumors of a former Coast Guard radio installation on Fire Island in 2002.  He writes:

On my last visit to Long Island I met with radio historian Van Field. During our discussions he mentioned some Coast Guard radio transmitters located on Fire Island, a long barrier island soutn of Long Island. I had heard of these transmitters before but always pictured them as some type of rusted relics. That's when Van showed me two photographs he had taken at the site. In one of them I recognized what appeared to be the twin of our beloved BL-10. The other transmitter was a RCA multi-frequency HF set generally similar to the MF transmitter in appearance.

On Monday, 23 December I met with Bob LaRosa of the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society. With him as an escort we went to "checkpoint", the building where the transmitters are located, now occupied by NPS rangers.


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In the picture of the MF transmitter that Van supplied much of the front panel was visable. Now it's almost totally obscured by items that have been moved into the transmitter room for storage. However a but of the tell-tale blue panel can be seen above the coat rack.

More of the panel of the HF set can be seen.

Part of the meter panel of the HF transmitter.

I couldn't get to the frequency selection controls of the HF set but theree was a photo of the panel in an exhibit at the Fire Island lighthouse visitor's center. Here's a photo of that photo.

The rear of both transmitters is being used for storage. But after a small battle with boxes and such I was able to penetrate a bit behind the panel of the MF set. Here the familiar variometers proved I was in the right spot. Note that items are even "stored" in the nearest variometer!

The "walking beam" transfer switch was present but minus the glass insulators. The frequencies of operation of the set are 500 and 486kc (as determined from the small panels on the front face).

The switch that's near the western door of BL-10 is present, stored behind the leftmost panel (as viewed from the front). But the legs of a government issue steel desk threaten to invade even this space.

At the opposite end of the reansmitter from the previous picture are the two air cooled tube sockets and a tuning arrangement I don't remember from BL-10.

The final stage tube is in place and appears to be in good condition.

The output tuning of the HF transmitter, possibly for two frequencies. Note the dual coils above and below the multiple dual tuning condensers.

The rectifier tube sockets and associated filament transformers in the HF transmitter.

Another output tuning section. The top coil in this section is missing. The rectifier section and the first pictured tuning section can be seen to the rear.

Another view of the tuning section with the missing upper coil.

The rear of a transmitter panel showing that a small part the original building structure had to be removed to accommodate it.

At the west end of the transmitter gallery is a long disused fireplace. This mural was painted above it.

Outside the building to the north was this tower base, probably a footing for a four legged tower.

This larger base in front of the building is the base for one leg of a large tower that supported a multi-wire flat top antenna. This tower and its mate can be seen in early photographs of the site. It's unknown what transmitter(s) fed that antenna.

Several outbuildings that appear to be more or less contemporary with the transmitter building still exist to the north. Here's one with the main building in the background. The transmitters are located on the ground floor of the main building to the right in this view. The tower, one leg of which rested on the base above, rose on the opposite side of the building. Its mate was in the general area where this picture was taken. Was this the tuning house for the antenna?

Another out building in the same area. Large concrete bases for other structures also exist in the area.

A large strain insulator is on display in the lighthouse visitor's center. It is unlabeled as to its function.