All HFRA members who still have their dress blues are once again invited to join the active members of the Hamden Fire Department marching contingent in Hamden's Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 28th.
At present, the marching contingent is scheduled to assemble on the parkway side of the high school starting at 0915. The HFRA wishes everyone a safe and meaningful Memorial Day holiday.
Before EMTs and Paramedics
The vast majority of fire department emergencies these days are medicals, although there will always be fires and other types of emergencies where only the fire department can be counted upon to save lives and property. There was a time in Hamden and everywhere else when medical calls were few and far between. In 1952, thirty "emergency" or "oxygen" calls were logged for the entire year! Today, that quota can be easily filled in one day by the HFD.
It wasn't until 1971 that the Hamden Fire Department had trained EMTs, and it would be another five years before it had paramedics.
A "save" for any department member is a wonderful experience - truly a reward in itself. During the past 40-plus years, we undoubtedly have had thousands of them. However, in those days before EMTs, a "save" was especially gratifying given the limited training and comparatively primitive equipment available to the fire service at the time. Below are two such examples from the early 1960s, both involving small children and Hamden firefighters who had the knowledge, skills and abilities at the right moment to meet the dire situations.
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE FOR EASIER READING
From the minutes of the February 15, 1961 meeting of the Hamden Board of Fire Commissioners:
"The clerk [Richard P. Cusson] read a letter from James T. O'Brien thanking the Dept. for help recently rendered to their son.
"Chairman [Elton] Wetmore moved and Mr. [Michael] Sullivan seconded a motion to give a citation to Joseph McDermott for his work during the above emergency and to give a station citation to the rest of the men on duty at the time of Station #2. The clerk was instructed to write to Joseph McDermott and ask him to appear before the next Board meeting."
From the minutes of the March 15, 1961 meeting of the Hamden Board of Fire Commissioners:
"Joseph McDermott appeared before the Board with the O'Brien family and was presented with a citation from the Board for recently helping to save the life of the O'Brien child."
Article and photo courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society
This photo of the Red Cross citation presentation was taken at the September 11, 1961 meeting of the Commission.
Fred Fletcher Saves Youngster's Life
Anthony Zaino is the son of Dino Zaino, a popular Mt. Carmel barber whose shop was right across Whitney Avenue from Station 5. In early August of 1959, Anthony's mother rushed her infant son from her home across the street to the Mt. Carmel firehouse after he suffered a seizure. Firefighter Fred Fletcher administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, thereby saving young Anthony's life.
Anthony Zaino sent this article to the Mt. Carmel Volunteer Fire Co. website (www.mtcarmelvolunteers.org) last year in connection with Co. 5's 100th anniversary.
Newspaper article courtesy of the fellow whose life Fred saved in 1959.
Ff. Fred Fletcher in 1976 at Station 3 (O'Hare Photo)
Summer 1950 - The Emergency Squad preparing to leave a Fennbrook Drive call. Looks like that might be Chief Raymond C. Spencer talking to the driver. (Photo by Chan Brainard) - CLICK to enlarge
A couple of weeks ago we featured a story about John O'Hare, the last Hamden firefighter to wear Badge No. 1. The second Hamden firefighter so honored was Frank Nolan, who came on the job in 1924. In a Hamden Chronicle article published nearly thirty years later, Ff. Nolan recalled his early days on the department and some of the guys he worked with.