This photo from the archives of the Hamden Historical Society identifies the gentleman in front the "Whitneyville Annex Fire Dept." on Merritt Street as "Chas. Flaherty." According to a history published in 1934, the name of the fire company was changed to "Merritt Street Volunteer Fire Co." in 1925.
Firefighter Ed Doiron drove Engine 6 out of the Merritt Street fire station for the last time when it closed in September 1970 (see other posting below).
c. 1921 - Charles Flaherty in front of the Whitneyville Annex Fire Department. The fire company was renamed the Merritt Street Volunteer Fire Co. 6 in 1925. (Photo courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society)
Sitting Watch at Station 3
1969 - Firefighter Ed Doiron at "old" Station 3 Watch Desk
44 Years Later at "new" Station 3 Watch Desk
Retiree Ed Doiron helped to monitor voting at Station 3 this week and found himself on familiar turf at the watch desk. Ed related how he and fellow "old" Platoon 1 firefighter Bob Slater reported to work as usual at Station 6 one night in September 1970 and were ordered to drive Engine 6 to "new" Station 3, thus leaving Station 6 for the final time. Upon arrival, Ed and Bob found the new fire station locked up tight. They had to wait for the deputy chief to show up with the key. Firefighters Doiron and Slater were also the first crew to respond to a call out of the new station. Ed served as Local 2687's first treasurer, from 1979 until his retirement in 1993.
August 1970 - Firefighter Ed Doiron at Station 6
August 1970 - Firefighter Bob Slater at Station 6
Scanned from the Board of Fire Commissioners' Minutes - Wednesday, November 12, 1958
Dedication Plaque for the 1959 Maxim "Cab-Forward" 750 Pumper, the first of that design manufactured by Maxim. (CLICK either image to enlarge)
Factory photo courtesy of Chan Brainard
December 2013 - Capt. Bernie Amatrudo and Ff. Ralph DiFonzo
November 1984 - Chief John Tramontano congratulates Bob Kelo following his swearing in as Lieutenant
November 29 - Hamden Deputy Fire Chief Bob Surprise is retiring today after nearly 33 years on the job.
Bob was one of eight new recruits hired in January 1981, a group that included Jay Connolly, John Longo, Harold Prescher, John O'Dea, Tim O'Flynn, Bob Stacy and Paul Wetmore, Jr. Firefighter Connolly, now second in department seniority, is the only member of that class still on the job.
When Bob came on the job he was a paramedic assigned to Platoon 4 at Headquarters. He earned promotions to lieutenant in 1988, captain in 1999, and battalion chief in 2006. A highly respected department officer, Bob was appointed by Mayor Scott Jackson to be the department's deputy chief in March 2010, the first time that position was filled by a department member who had previously served in all other lower ranks.
The HFRA wishes Bob a very long, happy and healthy retirement. He has informed us that he will be attending the Winter HFRA meeting on Thursday, January 8th at the Elks.
Since 1988 the title "Deputy Chief" (four trumpets) has denoted the Department's second-in-command, previously "Assistant Chief." From 1961 until 1984, "Deputy Chief" was the same HFD rank that is now "Battalion Chief" (three trumpets).
Dedication Plaques Last Surviving Vestiges of Bygone Hamden Apparatus
1938 Seagrave Dedication Plaque
1938 Seagrave 600 GPM Pumper (I.A. Sneiderman)
On Saturday, May 21, 1938, one month after the delivery of Hamden's brand new Seagrave 600 GPM pumper, Hamden Fire Commissioner James A. Gillies passed away suddenly at the age of sixty. Cmmr. Gillies had served on the Board of Fire Commissioners since 1930.
A handsome silver-plated plaque was purchased by the department and mounted on the starboard side of the pumper. The engraved plaque dedicated the new apparatus in memory of Commr. Gillies, noting his term of service on the Board. It remained on the Seagrave until, sadly, the pumper was sold for junk thirty years later.
Fortunately for department preservationalists, Cmmr. Gillies' memorial plaque and several other apparatus dedication plaques have survived. These plaques are tangible reminders of the apparatus on which they were mounted, as well as the town and department leaders who were in office when the apparatus were purchased.
The HFRA is grateful to Deputy Chief Bob Surprise for finding these memorial plaques and donating them to the HFRA archives for preservation. The website will post additional photos of these "survivors" with photos of their apparatus during the coming weeks.
Dedication Plaque on 1938 Seagrave (Photo by Chan Brainard)
"Well done, thou good and faithful servants."
May 1982 - Firefighter/Paramedics Robert Surprise and Howard Hurlburt, Jr. by Rescue 1 (Photo by John Tramontano)
In 1982, Platoon 4 Firefighter/Paramedics Bob Surprise and Howie Hurlburt, Jr. were usually assigned to Rescue 1, with only occasional respites on Engine 4. This week, after a 33 year career with the Hamden Fire Department, Deputy Chief Robert Surprise hangs up his helmet for we all hope will be a very long, happy and healthy retirement.
Put your thumb over the face of the guy on the right and show this photo to anyone who knew him and they'd say, "That's gotta be Howie!" Howie Hurlburt, Jr. was one of a kind, and a fine firefighter and paramedic. At the end of next week on Saturday, December 7th at 1 p.m, a memorial service for Howie will take place in Bethany at Lakeview Lodge on Rt. 42, west of Rt. 63. Howie passed away on November 20th in Arkansas where he had resided for many years following his retirement in 1993.
A Memorial Service for is planned for Saturday, December 7th at 1 p.m. Full details when available.
55 Years Ago
Sunday, November 30, 1958
Major house fire on Armory Street was but one of three that kept Hamden firefighters busy that day.
New Haven Journal-Courier, Monday, December 1, 1958 (Courtesy of Chan Brainard)
On Monday, December 1, 1958, the day this article appeared in The New Haven Journal-Courier, one of the worst school fires in U.S. history occurred at Chicago's Our Lady of the Angels parochial school. 92 children and three nuns lost their lives when the fully occupied 48-year old school caught fire just before dismissal.
It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of retired Hamden Fire Department Lieutenant/Paramedic Howard "Howie" Hurlburt, Jr. on Wednesday, November 20th in Arkansas, where he resided for the last several years.
Howie's fire service career began when he joined the Mt. Carmel Volunteer Fire Co. in 1965. Howie became a member of the career department in 1970 and was one of Hamden's first EMTs the following year. In 1976, Howie was among the first eight Hamden paramedics to be certified. Following a brief stint as the Department's first Mechanic in 1984, Howie was promoted to Lieutenant and was assigned to Platoons 3 and 4 until his retirement in 1993
Howie was from a family with deep roots in Hamden public service. His brother, Clark, a 30-year veteran of the Department, is a retired Deputy Chief. Howie's father, the late Howard Hurlburt, Sr., served on the Hamden Fire Department from 1948 until his retirement in 1981, and later served on the Hamden Legislative Council. His mother, Nancy, also served on the Council and was Hamden Town Clerk for several years during the 1980s and 90s.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Nancy, Clark and the rest of the Hurlburt family.
November 22, 2013 - The shocking events of fifty years ago today, and the days that followed, are snapshot moments indelibly etched into the memories of all Americans who were old enough at the time to comprehend the gravity of what had happened.
Over the years that observation has become almost a cliché, but it's true! The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Friday afternoon, November 22, 1963 was for the young people of the "Baby Boom Generation" what December 7th had been for the young people of 1941 who would become the "Greatest Generation," and what 9/11 has become for our children and grandchildren. And like those awful events of 1941 and 2001, the events of that terrible Friday afternoon one-half century ago changed the course of world history.
Fifty years ago this week, Dep. Chief Everett Doherty's 2nd Platoon was working the day shift from Tuesday the 19th through the Friday the 22nd. During that four-day trick an unidentified New Haven Register reporter visited Hamden Fire Headquarters to write a story about the daily routine of Hamden firefighters. The reporter returned the following week to includethree recruit firefighters who started on the job the day after President Kennedy's funeral. The story was published on Sunday, December 1st.
New Haven Register, Sunday, Dec. 1, 1963 (Courtesy of Gil Spencer and Chan Brainard) CLICK to enlarge
When the three recruit firefighters pictured in center-left photo of this article came on the job, the workweek was 56 hours and the pay was under $100 a week.
Two of the new firefighters stayed about two years. The third recruit, Charles Esposito, stayed for 30 years. In 1989, Lieutenant/Paramedic Charlie Esposito was appointed as the Department's second EMS Officer.
Contrary to the photo credit in the newspaper article, all but one of the photos in the article were taken by veteran newspaper photographer D.F. Vaccaro.
The center photo of Dep. Chief Hume training the three recruit firefighters was taken the following week by someone identified as Acampora, possibly the reporter.
The Vaccaro photos are believed to have been taken on either November 19th or 20th, and the Acampora photo on November 26th.
The website does have some of the original glossies from that newspaper article, all by D.F. Vaccaro.
The two Vaccaro photos immediately below did not appear in the published article - the three photos below them did.
CLICK PHOTOS TO ENLARGE
Ben Mikolinski and another day shift firefighter demonstrated the art of bed making for the benefit of the reporter. In some departments the day shift made the beds for the night shift. But in Hamden the night shift always made their own beds before going home each morning.
Once the chores and training were done, (L-R) Firefighters Paul Reutenauer, Milner Benham, Gil Spencer and John Hoffman demonstrated the art of television viewing. We used to call this "alarm readiness." These days there is a lot more "alarm" and a lot less "readiness."
Ff. Milner Benham atop Engine 4, the 1954 Maxim, inspecting the E&J resuscitator.
A stereotypical firehouse pastime: The boys pose for a contrived game of Setback for benefit of the photographer. Gil reports that he never played cards. (Ah, but some of us did!)
Gone somewhere! (Vaccaro Photo)
Note the officer's shoes front left, and the driver's shoe's front right, and the three pairs of shoes at the rear.
Three firefighters rode the tailboard, making it a crew of five!
Department Apparatus Committee Formed 30 Years Ago
Town Allocated Funds for First New Pumpers in Ten Years
In November 1983, Chief V. Paul Leddy and Dep. Chief John Tramontano took a novel approach to designing apparatus that would meet the Department's needs for the next generation. They assembled a committee of Department members of various ranks and job descriptions to investigate different apparatus configurations and specifications and make recommendations for the first new Hamden pumpers in ten years. Following several months of meetings, visits to neighboring departments and even a few test drives, the committee developed specs for two new Pierce Dash pumpers. The new pumpers were delivered a little more than a year later and served the Department for twenty-five more years.
The work of the apparatus committee, begun while Chief Leddy was still on the job, culminated in the delivery of two new Pierce Dash pumpers in early December 1984, eight months after Leddy retired. Below is retired Chief V. Paul Leddy in front of his home on Cumpstone Drive, standing next to the new Engine 4 less than a week after it arrived from the Pierce factory in Appleton, Wisconsin.
December 1984 - Retired Hamden Fire Chief V. Paul Leddy with Engine 4, a 1984 Pierce Dash 1,000 GPM Pumper (Photo by John Tramontano)
375 Mather Street
Wednesday, November 28, 1973
The New Haven Register, Wednesday, November 28, 1973 (Courtesy of Chan Brainard)
CLICK on either image to enlarge for easier reading.
Crews of Engine 3 and Rescue 1 on "old" 1st Platoon in front of Station 2
1964 - Old Platoon 1 Crew of Engine 3 and Rescue 1 (at Station 2): Lt. Joe McDermott, Ff. Dave Herrmann, Ff. Ray Bantz, Ff. Jerold Bradbury and Ff. Howard Hurlburt, Sr. (Courtesy of Joe McDermott)
Minnesota Student Restoring a 95-Year Old Truck
Just Like HFD's 1918 Chemical Truck
1918 Stewart Chemical Truck (CLICK to enlarge)
Troy Vetsch's 1918 Stewart Truck (CLICK to enlarge)
We received an email during the week from website visitor Troy Vetsch, a Stewartville, Minnesota college student. Troy is currently restoring a 1918 Stewart truck very similar to the Stewart chemical trucks bought by the Highwood and Mt. Carmel fire companies in 1918.
Troy asked if we had any photos that might aid with his restoration project. We had only three, but we were happy to send him jpgs. Troy replied immediately with a sincere message of thanks and appreciation, and he provided some great photos and background information on his project.
New Haven Register, Tuesday, November 19, 1963 (Courtesy of Chan Brainard)
1982 - Repacking hose on Leeder Hill Drive
1982 - Platoon 1 Firefighters John Calamo (in foreground), John Corbett (at left on tailboard) and Mike Murray (up top). This is one of the two 1968 Maxim S Models. Note the rear compartment door has been removed. Some of these 1960s and 1970s Maxims did not fare very well when it came to rust. - Photo by John Tramontano
1930 - 1935
Co. 5's 1930 Maxim 600 GPM (CLICK to enlarge)
Co. 8's 1918 Stewart Chemical (CLICK to enlarge)
The Great Depression hadn't as yet kicked into high gear when a brand new $8,500 1930 Maxim 600 g.p.m. pumper was delivered to Hamden on January 6, 1930. But it would be the last full size Hamden fire apparatus to be purchased for the next eight years.
The 1930 Maxim - some fire department records list it as a 1929 - was assigned to Co. 5 in Mt. Carmel, replacing the 1918 Stewart chemical truck purchased new by Co. 5 for $1,900 in December 1918.
Engine 7 on a 1935 Dodge Bros. Chassis
On August 18, 1930, Co. 5's 1918 Stewart went to Dunbar Hill Volunteer Co. 8. The 1910 Locomobile chemical truck that had been donated to Co. 8 by the Whitneyville volunteers in February of 1928 was stored at Station 4 and eventually sold.
On August 12, 1935, the Mix District Volunteer Fire Co. 7 purchased a brand new Dodge Bros. truck for $1,000. They added a 150 g.p.m. pump, a booster reel, ladders and additional assorted equipment. The body of Co. 7's 1918 Stewart chemical truck was removed and placed on the new Dodge. Co. 7's 1918 Stewart was purchased new by Highwood in February 1918 for $1,800.
Easily the longest serving piece of apparatus in Hamden Fire Department history, Co. 7's 1935 Dodge - Engine 47 - remained in active service well into the 1980s. It is still owned by the Mix District volunteers and appears annually in Hamden's Memorial Day parades.
Hamden Fire Department Apparatus Inventory 1935
Station 1 – Highwood Engine 1 – 1926 Maxim 500 g.p.m. pumper Hook & Ladder – 1926 Maxim city service ladder truck
Brief Homecoming for Hamden Firefighter at Fire Headquarters During WWII
During this week that includes Veterans' Day, we share this
wonderful photo with our fellow retirees and other website visitors.
L-R - Unidentified firefighter, Ff. Joe Marchito, Unidentified civilian, Lt. Roland Ruwet, Ff. Dan Hume with station mascot "Sport," Chief Raymond C. Spencer, and Ff. Jim Strain on leave from the US Navy. (Photo courtesy of Jean Strain)
This WWII-era photo was obtained from Jean Strain, daughter of the late Deputy Chief James Strain, who was shift commander of Platoon 2 until his 1973 retirement. Chief Strain joined the department in 1942 and was given leave soon thereafter to join the U.S. Navy for service in World War II. This photo, from a family album, shows young Navy enlistee Strain in front of Fire Headquarters in 1942 with other HFD personnel, some of whom could be identified.
Other active HFD personnel who took leave from the department to serve in the Armed Forces during WWII were Capt. Joe Hromadka, and Firefighters Stuart Keeler, V. Paul Leddy and Emil Strain, James' brother.
Website Navigation Made Easier
To make it easier for our website visitors to locate past website postings, the HOME (Archived) page on the top menu now lists the photos, articles, videos and other features that were included in each website update from April 1, 2011 to present, as well as those added to the website during each month from June 2009 to March 2011. (Still working on listing those additions of the first 21 months.)
Firefighter Eugene Maturo - New Haven Register, November 9, 1960 (Chan Brainard)
November 10, 2013 - Happy 238th Birthday USMC!
Veterans' Day 2013 Hamden Firefighters Have Served in
World War I - World War II - Korea - Vietnam The Gulf - Afghanistan - Iraq ______ Thank you!
November 11, 1918
We came across this postcard in an antique mall a few years ago. The event that occurred on the memorable date on the postmark resulted in a national day of observance once known as Armistice Day. On June 1, 1954 the name was officially changed to Veterans Day.
Hamden Firefighters Rescue 2 Kids From West Rock Cliff
November 11, 1965
More than a decade before the formation of Hamden's Mountain Rescue Team, Firefighters Benny Mikolinski and Paul Reutenauer, assisted by Lt. Bill Hines, Ff. Gil Spencer and other personnel, rescued two children from a cliff on West Rock. According to articles in The New Haven Journal-Courier and The New Haven Register, the children, ages 6 and 11, were "lowered to safety by firemen via a rope sling."
November 12, 1965 - New Haven Journal-Courier
Incumbent Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson was elected to a third term last Tuesday over challenger and HFRA member Bob Anthony. Website congratulates both Jackson and Anthony for conducting clean and intelligent campaigns that focused on the pressing issues confronting the town and Hamden's taxpayers.