The ARCHIVED ARTICLES INDEX has been completely revised with over 1,400 entries of articles and photos found on the HOME pages since the website started in 2009. The ALL PAST UPDATES and FIREFIGHTING, etc. indexes also have been revised and reorganized to make article identification and retrieval much easier.
These three menu tabs are normally open to HFRA members and subscribers only. But access to these three menu tabs will be open to all website visitors until August 20th, so check them out.
Website subscriptions that were due to expire before the end of 2018 will be extended until the end of this year. Subscriptions extending into 2019 and 2020 will be extended until the last day of the year of expiration.
Our fellow retiree and very good friend, Batt. Chief Gilbert "Gil" Spencer, HFD (Ret.), had a major medical emergency at his home last Thursday morning. We are very pleased to report that Gil is home and recovering nicely. Gil's son, Batt. Chief John Spencer, shift commander of Platoon 1, was on duty when his father was stricken. Batt. Chief Spencer wrote the following note to Local 2687, which we have been permitted to share:
A few days ago my father (Gilbert Spencer) had a sudden and severe medical emergency at his home. The crews who responded without question saved his life. They are Captain Ed Evers, Scott Blake, Matt Kellick, Wil Heiney, Zac Criscoulo and Jay Stevens. A terrific AMR crew was also part of this response regrettably I cannot remember their names. Because of their efforts, he made it to the hospital alive. We will never be able to thank them enough for what they did that day.
However, the story does not end there. A few hours later at the hospital while he was being examined by a team of cardiologists, without warning he went into sudden cardiac arrest. Fortunately, he was surrounded by experts and they were able to revive him in about two minutes. He was then rushed to emergency surgery and had a pacemaker implanted. He rested at the hospital overnight and was discharged the next day. It is incredible how you can go from cardiac arrest to being discharged in less than twenty four hours but that is what happened. He is still weak and sore but happy to be home recuperating.
Furthermore, my family and I would like to thank everyone who has reached out to us over the last few days. It helps knowing so many people are there for you if you need them. Once again, thank you to everyone and especially to the crew who saved his life.
* Gil Spencer retired from the HFD in 1992, after working for 39 years. He was a Commander, which is now what is currently the rank of Battalion Chief.
Gil, your fellow members of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association wish you a full and speedy recovery. We are also grateful for the outstanding emergency care that you received from our active colleagues on the Hamden Fire Department, from American Medical Response, and from the doctors who attended to you. You are in our thoughts and prayers, buddy. Godspeed!
Thanks to one of their sons, we now have photos of the last two Hamden firefighters for whom we had no complete photos at all. Ed Bevins Jr. of Wallingford recently sent this newspaper clipping from a late 1950's Hamden Firemen's Ball showing Firefighter William Esposito of Platoon 2 with his wife Lila, and his Station 4 colleague Firefighter Edward Bevins Sr. of Platoon 1 with his wife, Sylvia.
Until now, the HFRA had photos of every man who served on the department since World War II, except those two. To finally complete the set, getting these two men in a single photo was quite a fortuitous coincidence.
Donald Yosua photo in the New Haven Register, taken at a late 1950's Firemen's Ball (Courtesy of Ed Bevins Jr.)
Firefighters Ed Bevins and Bill Esposito both came on the job on October 17, 1949, and both served for more than ten years. But, as was the case with several other young firefighters at the time, both men left the job for economic reasons - Esposito in 1960 and Bevins the following year.
In 1959, $4,950 gross annual pay for a Grade A firefighter just didn't cut it for most families. Firefighter Bevins had three kids. Like all other firefighters of that era, and firefighters in the decades that followed, Bevins had to work part time jobs to supplement his fire department pay just to make ends meet, leaving very little time for family life. This was especially hard on Bevins, who lost his wife to cancer shortly after leaving the department in 1961 to work at Pratt & Whitney.
By all accounts from those who knew them, Bill Esposito and Ed Bevins were fine firefighters and well respected by their colleagues. Sadly, former Hamden Firefighter Bevins passed away only months after the HFRA was formed in 2009. The good news is that we believe that former Hamden Firefighter Bill Esposito is still with us, living in Florida. Sure would be great to hear from him or his family.
Thank you, Ed Bevins Jr., for this great newspaper photo!
Until now, the only image we had of Firefighter Ed Bevins showed him at the top of this ground ladder at the 1959 North Haven Brick Yard fire on State Street in Hamden. CLICK to enlarge.
And until now, the only image we had of Firefighter Bill Esposito was the part of his head revealed on the right side of this 1954 photo taken at the New Haven Fire School. CLICK to enlarge.
October 10, 1950 - CLICK to enlarge
This 1950 photo included every man on the department, except Firefighter Bill Esposito, who was likely at Station 2 protecting the south end of Hamden that night, when the Hamden Paid Firemen's Sick Benefit Association held its annual dinner at Headquarters. Firefighter Bevins is shown at the rear, on the left-hand side of the group, but his face was eclipsed by the pull handle for the south bay door.
Kitten Trapped In Storm Drain Rescued By Hamden Firefighters
Injured kitten is on the road to recovery following rescue by
Hamden firefighters earlier this week. Watch video of the rescue below.
By Vincent Salzo, Patch Staff, Aug 9, 2018 1:42 pm
HAMDEN, CT - A kitten is on the road to recovery after being rescued from a storm drain by Hamden firefighters earlier this week. Firefighters responded to a "kitten in a sewer" call from a business owner, according to a post on the Halfway Home Rescue Inc. Facebook page.
After the rescue operation (watch the video at the end of this story), the kitten was taken to Halfway Home Rescue in North Haven.
"Thank you Hamden Professional Firefighters Local 2687, who responded to the 'kitten in a sewer' call from a wonderful business owner," wrote the Halfway Home Rescue in a Facebook post. "You are all amazing, especially Brian Gagnon, who brought this little guy up! We at Halfway Home Rescue Inc have him.
"He's tiny, dehydrated, starving, and has a deformed paw (either from birth or injury). He's had a bath, some baby food, and has been given fluids. He's drying off, purring, and safe."
The kitten was taken to a veterinarian, who said it will need to have its leg amputated. Community members raised $1,000 through a Facebook fundraiser to cover the cost of the surgery.
"Thank you so much to all who donated, shared, and sent support for this little peanut," the Halfway Home Rescue wrote in an update on Wednesday. "She has officially been named 'Bri' after the wonderful firefighter (Brian Gagnon) who climbed into the sewer to save her."
Officials also thanked Battalion Chief Gary Couture for his help in facilitating the rescue. The Halfway Home Rescue is dedicated to saving the lives of abused, abandoned, and neglected animals.
Numerous department members joined family and friends last Monday morning in the town hall rotunda when recruit Firefighter/Paramedic Jason Stevens was sworn in as Hamden's newest firefighter.
A graduate of the New Haven Fire Academy, Stevens is a nationally registered paramedic who served previously with the West Haven Fire Department. Following orientation with department Training Officer, Lieut. Charles Lubowicki Jr., he will be assigned to Station 4 on Platoon 2.
The members of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association wish Firefighter/Paramedic Jason Stevens a long, happy and safe career with the Hamden Fire Department. Welcome aboard!
Congratulations from Town Clerk Vera Morrison
Chief David Berardesca and Ff/Paramedic Jason Stevens
Hamden Firefighters' First Visit to Station 6 in 48 Years
On Sunday afternoon, July 15, 2018 at 3:20, the Hamden Fire Department was dispatched to a reported structure fire at 21 Merritt Street.
Arriving first on the scene, Tower 1 reported smoke showing from the flat roof on the westward side of the brick building. Other companies on the assignment were Engine 3, Engine 2, Squad 1, Rescue 1 and Car 3.
Firefighters accessed the area using saws and hand tools to pull back the roofing material and interior ceilings. Fire was found in several joist bays and extinguished. Battalion Chief Gary Couture declared the fire under control at 3:30.
The building, which now houses KMK Insulation and a residence above, was built by the members of the Whitneyville Annex Fire Department when the fire company was organized in 1921 to protect the residents of the East Rock/State Street area of Hamden.
The company was renamed the Merritt Street Volunteer Fire Co. No. 6 in 1925. Beginning with a paid driver for Engine 6 in the late 1920s, career firefighters were assigned to Merritt Street until the end. The firehouse closed in September 1970, when Engine 6 was reassigned to new Station 3 at Hartford Turnpike and Ridge Road. Engine Co. 6 was deactivated in 1974.
In the photo below, the shadow of the former fire company sign is still visible above the garage door. The narrow bay opening was one of the major reasons the station was unable to house larger more modern fire equipment in 1970.
The fire was ignited during roof repairs around a rooftop scupper. Torches used to soften asphalt based sealant ignited the wooden framing members below. Damage was confined to a relatively small area. No injuries were reported.
The website thanks the Fire Chief's Office and Dep. Chief Gary Merwede for providing all info and photos.
Whitneyville Annex fire station in 1922, shortly after it was built (Courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society)
On Wednesday, July 11, at (7:44) p.m., the Hamden Fire Department was dispatched to a reported appliance fire at 768 Pine Rock Avenue. The first unit, arriving at 7:47, reported smoke showing from the single-family home and transmitted that a working structure fire was underway.
The initial search was negative. Residents were found to have escaped the home prior to the fire department arriving on scene.
Engine 2 from Circular Avenue made entry and was able to suppress and extinguish the fire, confining it to the kitchen area. Additional crews remained on scene for overhaul, ventilation, and salvage of personal items.
No injuries were reported. The fire was declared under control at 8:10 p.m. by Battalion Chief Ronald Desroches. All companies were cleared from the scene by 9:10 p.m.
Fire Marshal Brian Dolan has determined the accidental fire originated in the ice-maker of the kitchen refrigerator, extending quickly to the adjacent cabinetry. The residents of the home will be displaced during kitchen repairs and are currently staying with neighbors.
During suppression operations at 768 Pine Rock, an unrelated call for smoke in an apartment building at 304 Pine Rock was dispatched at 8:01. Units arrived on scene at 8:05 p.m. The smoke in the first floor hallways of Building “C” was due to an overheated pot on the stove, which only required ventilation. No residents were displaced or injured.
The website thanks the Fire Chief's Office and Dep. Chief Gary Merwede for providing all info and photo.
HFRA member Bob Slater sent these photos of this 1960s John Bean 750 GPM pumper on a Ford chassis. Bob was at an out of town restaurant recently and was attracted to the piece because he and his wife Karen live in Davenport, Florida, the town labeled on the truck. But when got closer to the truck, he noticed a couple of things that didn't compute, given its advanced age.
First, a "Call 9-1-1" message was painted on the truck. And although 9-1-1 has been around a long time, it seemed unlikely that 9-1-1 service would have coincided with the service life of this antique. He also thought the modern light bar somewhat an anachronism.
The pumper is in pretty bad shape cosmetically - lots of rust througb spots due to constant exposure to the elements. There was no info on whether the truck still runs or pumps. He also reported that the "9-1-1" marking and the modern light bar were added later by the current owner.
John Bean, out of Lansing, Michigan and Tipton, Indiana, was a division of Ford Motor Company. We're going to try to find out more about the pedigree of this particular pumper. The search is always a challenge.
The 25th Annual Hamden Volunteer Firefighters' Fireworks was a huge success. The fire retirees have been staunch supporters of this fine Hamden tradition since the HFRA was organized nine years ago. The fireworks committee's acknowledgement of our donation, normally shared at the Summer meeting, is in a pdf file at left.
The 1948 City Directory lists the owner of 57 Gorham Avenue as Clarence Stretch. This is all that was left of the garage at that address following a fire that also destroyed the Depression-era automobile inside.
There was no accompanying news article, but the response to this incident was most likely Engine 2 out of Humphrey Station 2, Engine 1 and the ladder truck out of Highwood Station 1, and the Squad out of Headquarters, Station 4. The entire inventory of the department on that day of this incident is listed below.
Hamden Fire Department Apparatus Inventory July 1948 Station 1 – Highwood Engine 1 – 1942 Diamond-T 600 g.p.m. pumper Ladder 1 – 1941 Diamond-T city service ladder truck Station 2 – Humphrey Engine 2 – 1938 Seagrave 600 g.p.m. pumper Station 3 – Whitneyville Engine 3 – 1928 Maxim 750 g.p.m. pumper
Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - Lieut. Frank Critchett, Lieut. Gary Merwede, B/C Bill Coppola, and Lieut. Sam DeBurra - Courtesy of D/C Merwede - CLICK to enlarge
The last shift for any firefighter is a bittersweet experience. The guys at Station 3 congratulated Lieut. Frank Critchett on his upcoming retirement with an impromptu gathering on his last shift, Wednesday night, November 30, 2005.
Frank Critchett came on the job in April 1981 and was promoted to lieutenant in 1987. He had been a Seymour volunteer firefighter and once served as Chief of that department. Frank lost his battle with cancer on October 10, 2010. His funeral was held in Hamden with HFD Chaplain, Rev. Owen Sandesron officiating. Frank's widow, Mary, is an Honorary member of the HFRA. She was presented with the association's first memorial plaque in November 2010.
A storage structure at the Winchester powder farm off Putnam Avenue was destroyed the day before Fourth of July in 1934, when about 600 lbs. of gun powder exploded due to "spontaneous combustion." An airplane over the area was rocked by the resulting concussion, according to its pilot, Fred Fowler. According to this Hartford Courant article, six pieces of Hamden fire apparatus responded to the incident.
The Winchester powder farm was located generally within the Whitneyville area bounded by Putnam Avenue, Dixwell Avenue, Treadwell Street and Clifford Street, where Leeder Hill Drive is today. The area was cleared of Winchester buildings in the mid-1960s.
Here is the earliest newspaper account we have of a fire in Hamden, from the July 1, 1853 edition of the New Haven Palladium. The exact location of the building was not mentioned in the article, but an 1868 map of Hamden suggests that the Hamden Iron Co. may have been the "Iron Works" that was located in the Woodruff factory at Broadway and Ives. Built in 1833, most of the Woodruff factory building was destroyed by fire in January 1968.
Apparently this "fire proof" building wasn't so fire proof. Forty-three years before the organization of Hamden's first fire company, even a small fire usually resulted in the total loss of a building and its combustible contents.
Originally posted 12/28/12
Photocopy provided by Julie Hulten, Hamden Historical Society
100 Years Later
Thursday, June 25, 1953
The Hamden Chronicle - Courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society
One hundred years after the fire at the Hamden Iron Company, this truck was headed up Ives Street with a load of cutlery from the Fleming Company, located in the old Woodruff factory at Ives and Broadway. It didn't make it.
The old Woodruff factory was where the Hamden Iron Company is believed to have been located when it caught fire almost one hundred years to the day earlier. The Fleming Company would burn fifteen years later on January 12, 1968.
The building in the background, located at the corner of Whitney Avenue, presently houses the Mt. Carmel Wine and Spirit Shoppe. The Mt. Carmel Volunteer Fire Co. was first quartered in a rear wing of that building - now demolished - until the present station was completed in 1926.
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that he is directing U.S. and state flags in Connecticut to fly at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Tuesday, July 10, 2018, in honor of U.S. Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. John H. Canty, a World War II airman from Winsted who was killed in action in 1944 at the age of 22 and whose remains were recently discovered and returned to his family. A funeral service and burial with full military honors is being held Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C.
Accordingly, since no flag should fly higher than the U.S. flag, all other flags, including state, municipal, corporate, or otherwise, should also be lowered during this same duration of time.
“Staff Sgt. Canty put his life on the line and made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the United States, and for that we are forever grateful,” Governor Malloy said. “These many decades later, he has rightfully returned home and will receive a proper burial at one of our nation’s most sacred grounds alongside other heroes who fought on behalf of our country. We are forever grateful for his service, and I ask all Connecticut residents to join me in honoring Staff Sgt. Canty’s memory and sacrifice.”