Brian Williams Wore Many Hats and Broke Barriers in the Fire Service
The Flanders Fire Department lost one of its most integral members when Ex-Chief Brian K. Williams died earlier this month. He was just 52 years old when he suffered an apparent heart attack at home on November 7.
His death reverberated outside of his small community on the northern edge of Southampton Town, as he served as a fire marshal who had investigated countless fires across the township in his 22-year career and where he made history.
Hundreds turned out to pay their respects at the Flanders firehouse to a man who served not only as a volunteer firefighter in his hometown since 1994, but also the greater Southampton community through various posts that helped shape the fire service.
“Along the way, Brian’s larger-than-life personality built a network of connections that reached across the country,” according to a eulogy written by Christopher Doscinski, the department secretary and a captain. Chief Joseph Jasinksi read it aloud during a firematic service held on November 17.
“Brian would use those connections in the most selfless of manners, always looking to help others, whether it be for securing a permit, getting somebody through fire school or earning the requirements needed to land that town job.”
He worked as a Southampton Town fire marshal since 2001, a post he still held, though he was assigned to the Community Preservation Fund office as a ranger in recent years.
In the Flanders Fire Department, he served as chief from 2001 to 2003, and then went on to join the Flanders Fire District Board of Fire Commissioners, an elected position he held since 2005. He was the current chairman of the board.
He also served as a past president of the Southampton Town Chief’s Council and was the sitting president of the Southampton Fire District Association.
Williams broke barriers and made history in several areas. He was the first African-American chief in the Flanders Fire Department, the first African-American commissioner in the Flanders Fire District and the first African-American fire marshal in Southampton Town.
“You see it is one thing to be the first at something, but it is something entirely different to be so good at something people want you to continue doing it,” the eulogy read.
Doscinski referred to Williams as “what in baseball they would call a five-tool player,” noting how his skills ran the gamut — from being one of the department’s most reliable drivers to still donning the Scott Air-Pak for interior firefighting at 52, to being “organized and book smart” and taking a hand in teaching new probationary members.
He is survived by his wife, Julie “Lisa” Green-Williams of Charleston, South Carolina, his daughter, Kiara (Misael) Cabrera of Henrico, Virginia, and his son, Saivon Williams of Mastic, along with six brothers and three sisters .
In addition to the firematic service, a funeral service was held at Galilee Church in Riverhead on November 18, followed by burial at Riverhead Cemetery.