During 1983-84, Storer Cable Television of New Haven produced "Hamden at Work," hosted by former newspaperman Frank Whalen. The program showcased a different town department each week. On April 17, 1984, "Hamden at Work" featured the Hamden Fire Department in two simulations, a priority one medical emergency and a mountain rescue at the quarry at Sleeping Giant State Park off Tuttle Avenue.
Chief V. Paul Leddy on "Hamden at Work" - April 17, 1984
Mr. Whalen began the broadcast by introducing outgoing Hamden Fire Chief V. Paul Leddy, who retired less than two weeks later after more than 23 years as chief. Chief-designate John Tramontano and Assistant Chief-designate Walter T. Macdowall were also present to narrate the mountain rescue and EMS simulations, respectively. They would be sworn in on April 30th.
Lasting just over ten minutes, this video is the first half of the broadcast, which features the stabilization a cardiac arrest victim and the various associated procedures protocols in effect at the time. (The mountain rescue simulation will be posted with next Friday's website update.)
In the EMS scenario, which was taped in a small office in the town hall, "Mr. Johnson" was portrayed by Ff. Charlie "Chaz" Cargan. His secretary was Jill from the town clerk's office. Lieut./EMT Bob Westervelt and Firefighter/EMT Paul Petrillo of Engine 4 arrived first, followed by Rescue 1's Firefighter/Paramedic Tom Conway and Firefighter/EMT Ray Ramelli.
Website thanks to retired captain and HFRA member Dennis Baker for providing some photos he took of his Platoon 4 buddies at Station 2 in 1979, about a year after coming on the job.
CLICK to enlarge
CLICK to enlarge
Ff. Ronnie Altieri at the desk in the officer's room, such as it was, at Station 2.
The officer assigned to Station 2 on Platoon 4 was Lieut. John Tramontano (his photos to be featured next week).
Ff. Billy "Badass" Mulcahy at the watch desk. Note the rotary dial phone on the desk and the Gamewell tape register on the shelf behind. The object on the shelf next to the tape take-up reel was a huge rolodex with running cards listing the apparatus on each fire alarm box.
Mulcahy is reading, apparently unaware that Ronnie is up to something. Watch desk amenities consisted only of a radio - note the make-shift antenna - and whatever reading material was available. Watch was sat in two-hour shifts from 0800 to 1800, and one-hour shifts from 1800 to 2300. Last man on watch cleaned the kitchen.
45 Years Ago
Tuesday, April 22, 1969 - The members of Co. 5 were just leaving the firehouse following a very long regular monthly meeting when the bell hit for this water rescue at the Ives Street bridge over Mill River. The driver of the 1966 Pontiac was rescued by Hamden police Sergeant Burton Brockett.
Dazed from his ordeal, the 23-year old vehicle operator insisted that a female companion was with him in the vehicle when it went off the road. Hamden police officer John O'Connor was injured while trying to locate the woman in the wreckage. Several police and career and volunteer firefighters waded around in the swollen Mill River for about twenty minutes in a vain atempt to locate the woman, who was apparently safe at home with her parents.
The New Haven Register, Wednesday, April 23, 1969 - Courtesy of Chan Brainard
Nineteen members and two guests attended the HFRA's Spring Meeting at the Hamden Elks Hall on April 9th. Before the start of the meeting, the members gathered for a group photo in front of the hall. Following a brief meeting, the members sat down for another fine meal prepared by Brian Forsyth and the Elks' own Ollie.
In Some Communities Whistles Replaced Sirens During WWII
This New Haven Evening Register article dated April 10, 1942 reported that whistles would soon replace sirens as warning devices on New Haven fire apparatus, lest the fire sirens be confused with those that provided air raid warnings. We would like to know if this practice continued for the duration of the war. And did it extend to Hamden? Maybe.
Courtesy of the New Haven Free Public Library Microfilm Collection
Co. 7's 1935 Dodge Bros. truck was equipped with a WWII-era whistle, and it was often used in place of the siren well into the 1970s. Whether or not other Hamden apparatus were also equipped with whistles during the war is a question that has yet to be answered.
Three Honored at 2014 Local 2687 Annual Dinner April 5, 2014
Retirees Surprise and Angiletta
Local 2687, I.A.F.F. honored three veteran firefighters during the local's annual retirement dinner last Saturday evening at the Laurel View Country Club. Local Vice President Dave Beaton emceed the event, which honored retired Deputy Chief Robert Surprise (33 years of service), Firefighter-Paramedic Roberta Angiletta (19 years of service), and Firefighter John Bradbury (15 years of service), who was not present.
Chief David Berardesca thanked and praised all three retirees for their service. He called Surprise as a true "gentleman's gentleman" and a "Renaissance Man," noting that Bob had worked himself up through all the ranks to become Deputy Fire Chief. "I could not have asked for a better deputy chief."
Receiving the Local's gift of a retirement watch from Local President Kurt Vogt, Roberta praised the personnel she worked with during her 19 year tenure. Noting the many sleepless nights on the rescue, she extended a special thanks to "two special people, Kurt Vogt and Paul Turner, for putting up with me all these years." On her first day on the job, a fellow firefighter riding Engine 4 lent her his bunker coat to keep warm. "I knew then it was going to be a good career; I knew I was accepted . . . It was my honor and my pleasure working with all of you guys."
Bob Surprise praised the many officers and firefighters he served with throughout his 33-year career, and gave special recognition to his family "for putting up with the nights, the weekends, and all the holidays and missed special occasions," something that all career firefighters and their families understand.
Music for the event was provided by DJ, Firefighter Doug O'Rourke.
Bob Mordecai, Austin Williams, Bob Anthony, John Bellmore, Tom Doherty, Gil Spencer, Dave Johnson, Ed Kopjanski, Mark Pratt, Jim Leddy, John Poe, Bob Slater, Harold Mangler, Chick Manware, Jim Dunlop, Bob Westervelt, Rev. Owen Sanderson and John O'Dea
Future History Dept.
Newest Firefighter Sworn In
Chief Berardesca, Firefighter Borrelli and D/C Merwede (Photo by Ff. Kevin Shields)
The rotunda of Memorial Town Hall was the setting last Monday for the swearing-in of Hamden's newest firefighter, West Haven native Nicholas Borrelli.
In an email to the website, Deputy Chief Gary Merwede noted that Nick "put himself through paramedic school following UCONN to achieve his goal of becoming a career firefighter." Prior to his appointment, Firefighter-Paramedic Borrelli had served for three years with the New London Fire Department.
D/C Merwede also noted that in Borrelli's interview with the Fire Commission, he "took the time to recount some of our [HFD] history, and was very informed as to the current structure of the department."
D/C Merwede credits the HFRA website and the Local for "making a good impression on the web!"
The members of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association wish Firefighter-Paramedic Borrelli a long, fulfilling and safe career with the Hamden Fire Department.
Hamden Fire Retirees Association Started With an Invitation
April 7, 2009 - After years of talking about it, a number of retired Hamden firefighters decided it was time to do something about it. Five years ago this week a few retirees got together in the back of Bob Viglione's barber shop in North Branford to stuff scores of envelopes addressed to those fire retirees who could be located. The envelopes contained invitations to meet the following month to form a retirees' association. And we did! Five years later, nearly 80% of all retirees have joined.
HFRA Spring Quarterly Meeting
Next Wednesday, April 9th, NOON
Hamden Elks' Lodge, 175 School Street
Anything for the Good of the Association
Sausage, Pepper Parmesan sub or Meatball Parmesan sub,
Jim Moore took this nice shot of the refurbished '73 Maxim at Station 9 sometime in the late 1980s.
50 Years Ago - "Search and Communications Drill"
On Sunday, April 5, 1964, members of Hamden's paid and volunteer fire companies participated in a "search and communications" drill. A few days later, the New Haven Journal-Courier reported that the drill, conducted by Chief V. Paul Leddy and Civil Defense Director Dep. Chief Daniel Hume, was also a test of the "new citizen's band radio operation."
The object of the drill was to locate a supposedly radioactive 15" square box that had been hidden the day before somewhere in Brooksvale Park. The box was located by Co. 8 Capt. John DeMatteo after only two and one-half hours. Using radiological detection instruments, the box was determined to be safe for removal. Members of the West Woods Women's Auxiliary provided refreshments.
Courtesy of Gil Spencer and Chan Brainard - CLICK to enlarge
Not mentioned in the newspaper caption were Co. 5 members Jim Mathis and Don Steele, who were standing off to the right. Among the other drill participants pictured were future career member, Ed Doiron, who would join the department at the end of the year, and Fred Fletcher, who already was an 18-year department member. Fred was an elected line officer of Co. 5 at the time.
When significant emergencies occurred in those days, all off-duty career department personnel were expected to return to duty. So, career members who lived in volunteer districts were often active members of those volunteer companies.
Firefighter Stan Brown took this portait of Station 2 sometime in the mid-1960s. When the 1913 fire station was enlarged to three bays in 1951, the IDs above the bay doors corresponded to the apparatus housed therein. But later interior changes dictated swapping of positions. (L-R) - Engine 2 (1959 Maxim), Truck 1 (1958 Maxim) and Engine 1 (1938 Seagrave).
Stan Brown Photo courtesy of Chan Brainard
Despite the "TRUCK 1" sign above the door, the official department term to denote this type of apparatus was "Ladder." On July 1, 1974, radio designations for all apparatus were changed and "Ladder 42" became "Truck 1." Previously, the department term for the 1941 Diamond-T and 1926 Maxim city service ladder trucks was "Hook and Ladder."
Photo courtesy of Chan Brainard - Posted 4/4/14
April 9, 1976 - Mark Pratt mugged it up for the camera while driving Engine 2 to the Shop at the back of Station 2 for fuel. With the number of gasoline-powered engines dwindling, the gasoline pump located between the two bay doors of the Shop was gone by 1988.
January 1, 1999
Between mid-1995 and the end of 1998, seventeen department members retired and fifteen vacancies were filled. Chief Paul Wetmore, Sr., who succeeded Chief John Tramontano in 1993, retired in 1996 after 34 years of service. Asst. Chief Tim Sullivan was appointed Chief to succeed Wetmore. Dep. Fire Marshal Ed Badamo was appointed Asst. Chief to succeed Sullivan. Lt. John Spencer was appointed Deputy Fire Marshal to succeed Badamo.
Also in 1996, Battalion Chief Tom Doherty retired after 35 years on the job. In 1998, Capt. Paul Wetmore Jr. was promoted to succeed Doherty as battalion chief of Platoon 3. Lt. Dave Strawhince was promoted captain to succeed Wetmore.
Lt. Jack Calamo retired in 1996 with 26 years of service. Lt. Bob Kelo retired in 1998 with 27½ years of service. The four lieutenant vacancies that occurred during this period were filled by Firefighters Jim Dunlop, Bernie Amatrudo, Dennis Harrison and Gary Couture.
Asst. Supt. of Alarms and Apparatus Ray Chase was appointed to replace Supt. Mike Murray, who requested reassignment back to the line. Firefighter Tom Conway was appointed to replace Chase as Asst. Supt.
Thirteen firefighters also retired during this period, leaving a total of 17 vacancies: Frank Kafka (28 years), Bill Davin (30 years), Tom Hart (16½ years), George Patten (34 years), Mark Pratt (22½ years), Tony Melillo (27½ years), Fred "Chick" Manware (25 years), Dave McDermott (28 years), Tom Mikolinski (26 years), Harold Prescher (17½ years), Jim Moore (30 years), Ralph Dievert (29 years), and Jim Koutsopolos (28 years).
Fifteen of the 17 firefighter vacancies were filled by Timothy Lunn, Jeffery Pechmann, Donald Paczowski, Paul Turner, John Bradbury, Paul Anderson, Brian Badamo, Jeffrey Woodford,, Edwin Evers, Kevin Shields, Bryon Tierney, Raymond Pouncey, Julio Lopes, Douglass Taylor and John Grasso.
This week's update marks anniversaries of two noteworthy HFD emergency responses. The earliest was a fire at a North Haven chemical plant to which our department responded sixty-five years ago. The other, thirteen years later, involved a fuel oil spill into Lake Whitney. Today both emergencies would have been classified as Haz-Mat incidents, but were handled according SOPs in effect at the time.
65 Years Ago!
The Carwin Chemical Co.
41 Stiles Lane, North Haven
Wednesday, March 30, 1949
The Hamden Fire Department responded to North Haven's Carwin Chemical Co., located at the end of Stiles Lane, which runs east of State Street opposite the end of Dixwell Avenue. Ironically, Hamden and North Haven fire oficials had met two weeks earlier and decided to discontinue Hamden's coverage of certain areas of North Haven as of the following October 1.
The Hamden Chronicle, Thursday, March 31, 1949 (Courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society)
The Stiles Lane site of the Carwin Chemical Co. was later occupied by the Upjohn Chemical Corp., which ceased operations in 1993. Recently the site has been undergoing a massive and very expensive decontamination.
On March 19, 1941 at 4:30 p.m., Engine 4, Engine 5, the Squad and the Hook & Ladder were dispatched to the Peters residence at 2316 Dixwell Avenue for a reported oil burner fire. At 4:31 p.m., the ladder truck was struck by a Connecticut Company trolley car at the corner of Dixwell and Mather. Firefighter David F. Howe was driving. There were no other riders. Miraculously, Howe was uninjured.
The truck was deemed unsalvageable and was traded in for a brand new 1941 Diamond-T city service ladder truck from the Woods Engineering Co. in Topsfield, Massachuetts. The new truck was delivered in February of the following year.
Originally posted March 19, 2011
This week also marks the 51st anniversary of the decision by the Hamden Board of Fire Commissioners to sell the 1941 Diamond-T ladder truck that replaced the truck totalled in the trolley car encounter. The $2,200 realized from the sale of the 22-year old truck went toward the purchase of Plectron radios for alerting members of the four Hamden volunteer fire companies.
Hamden Chronicle - March 28, 1963
Sold to New Milford's Water Witch Co. for $2,200
Change of Underwear Dept.
"There, but for that telephone pole, go I"
This Journal-Courier photo dated March 28, 1966 was among hundreds of news articles donated to the HFRA a couple of years ago by Honorary Member Chan Brainard. It immediately caught our eye . . .
This "one-car crash" was nearly a two-car crash! Returning home from a movie, your webmeister and his younger brother were traveling northbound on Whitney Avenue. Less than two blocks from our street, this brand new dark green Chrysler Imperial came out of nowhere, barreling right at us.
At the last moment the driver veered into a telephone pole, avoiding a head-on collision with our car. The pole was directly in front of Russota's Paint store, where Keating Brothers is today.
No surprise: The Chrysler driver was pinched for "failure to drive in the proper lane." Today, charges also would have included something called "D.W.I."
On a brisk March afternoon forty-three years ago this week, a boy delivering newspapers discovered fire coming from the roof of this colonial-style house on Santa Fe Avenue. Engines 3, 4 and 6, Ladder 2 and Rescue 2 responded with Car 30 (Deputy Chief Hromadka) and Car 40 (Chief Leddy).
Chan Brainard sent us this remarkable photo of fire breaking through the roof as Hamden firefighters with a hand line ascend the homeowner's ladder, already in place. The homeowner had been making repairs to the gutter using a torch to melt adhesive. Not surprisingly, the result was extensive damage to the roof and attic of this rambling Spring Glen home, and injuries to three Hamden firefighters.
The Santa Fe Avenue fire location was directly next door to the Brainard home at 12 Middle Road. All of these color photos were taken by Chan's mother! Chan was already living on the West Coast. His mom regularly mailed him news articles of local fire department activities, many of which are now in the HFRA archives.
Louise Brainard Photo
The article below refers to a "hidden attic." From inside the house, the fire floor was accessible only by way of a pull-down stairway located in the room above the garage. So firefighters popped the roof scuttle for an initial attack, and created openings elsewhere on the roof to achieve effective ventilation.
The man on the nozzle has been identified as Firefighter Joe Shields. The officer with him would have been Lieut. Dave Hermann. Both were assigned to Engine 3.
New Haven Register, Friday, March 26, 1971 (Courtesy of Gil Spencer)
Louise Brainard Photo
The 1968 Maxim S model at left in the background is parked on the Middle Road side of the "fire" house, which faces Santa Fe Avenue. It is either Engine 3 or Engine 4. They were identical. The 1954 Maxim in the foreground is Engine 6, which had been quartered at Station 3 since it moved from Merritt Street six months earlier. Engine Co. 6 was de-activated in 1974.
Below left, a Hamden firefighter is on what appears to be the homeowner's extension ladder. All Hamden grtound ladders at the time were wooden. The photo on the right shows the extent of the damage to the attic and roof.
Louise Brainard Photo (CLICK to enlarge)
Louise Brainard Photo (CLICK to enlarge)
Interior access to the attic was a problem, so the roof was breached in several places to reach the fire and to allow for ventilation.
New Haven Parks Department
Park Road (Hamden)
Monday, March 14, 1977
A nasty fire in a New Haven Parks Department's storage building on Park Road kept Hamden firefighters of Platoon 2 very busy on a windy night thirty-seven years ago this past week. The building was already well involved before the arrival of the first engine, Engine 3. Firefighters' efforts were hampered by winds that threatened to spread the fire to adjacent buildings. Fire Marshal Bob O'Donnell determined that it had been set.
New Haven Register, Tuesday, March 15, 1977 (Courtesy of Gil Spencer)
this week to HFD chaplain
Rev. Owen Sanderson
The New Haven Evening Register
March 25, 1957
(Courtesy of Chan Brainard)
The New & Improved EM44
Website thanks to Bob Freeman, who heads Hamden's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), for sending these before and after photos of Hamden CERT's command vehicle, EM44, which is currently being refurbished.
Bob wrote, "This vehicle is a tribute to not only the CERT Members but all of our firefighters, active and retired. As you well know, one of the main goals of the CERT Program is to assist our First Responders and contribute our share for the professionalism and dedication they provide."
Hamden's CERT volunteers are a credit to our community and public safety.
Exterior cosmetics included a switch from green to red, but more improvements will be inside.